Thursday, September 30, 2010

Eggplant-Lentil Stew, plus some simple salads

I'm now playing catch-up with the blog: over a week ago, I started with with a recipe for "eggplant and chickpea stew" in Classic Vegetarian Cooking from the Middle East and North Africa.  Some changes to this recipe: I blackened the eggplant again, used lentils instead of chickpeas (which meant they still needed to cook), changed around some more of the cooking method, omitted the veggies I didn't have, and added lemon juice at the end.

I think I should have used more lentils.  The eggplant got bigger as it stewed, and took over the dish.  Still, there's someting nice about having lentils as a protein-texture "accent" rather than it being a lentil dish.  Nutmeg, cilantro, and lemon, as well as the smoky flavor of the eggplant, made a dish that would have seemed pretty bland into something special (n.b.: the nutmeg and cilantro were in the original recipe).

Eggplant-Lentil Stew

1 eggplant
olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1/2 c lentils, rinsed
1-1 1/2 c water
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 TB cilantro, minced
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
juice of 1/2 lemon

1. Blacken the eggplant by cooking it directly over the medium flame on a gas stove, turning every 2 minutes, for 10 minutes.  Or, bake in the oven, sliced in half, poked with a fork, and placed flat-side-down on an oiled baking sheet, at a high temperature for 20-30 minutes.  Allow eggplant to cool, then peel off skin.  Discard skin; coarsely chop eggplant, and set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Cook onion several minutes, then add garlic and bay leaf.  Cook another minute or so, then add lentils, water, nutmeg, cilantro, salt, and pepper.  Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until lentils are cooked.
3. Adjust salt and pepper to taste, stir in lemon juice, and enjoy, perhaps served with bulgur.  Serves about 4.


I also made two other salads: one was lentils and roasted red peppers, with lemon, onion, etc.; the other was steamed chard with lemon, mint, and cilantro.  Both were refreshing but not life-changing.  Also pictured: Mediterranean Wheat Berry Salad.

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