Welcome to 2013!
Although I am not superstitious, I really do enjoy rituals of celebration. So what better way is there to start the New Year than with a plate full of lentils for abundance of happiness (or is it money?).
This recipe is from Ottolenghi’s “Plenty”. (It cannot be a coincidence that I gifted this book to myself on Thanksgiving last year 🙂 )
As lovely as all this the symbolism is, I believe that the first days of the year are for relaxing and lounging around rather than standing in the kitchen for hours on end. So I would not be suggesting this recipe if it were not so easy to put together. The only thing that takes a little effort is the grilled aubergine. At the same time it really tastes amazing and adds another dimension to the dish. I have two suggestions: either make as much of this fabulous grilled aubergine as possible; keep the rest (refrigerate or freeze) to make baba ganouch to have later with some soft warps and lamb, for example. Or take a short cut by leavening out the aubergine and replacing it with a piece of delicate steamed fish.
By the way, Ottolenghi’s “Plenty” is a wonderful vegetarian recipe book. I will not be sharing many recipes from it on my blog as I think you really should get it yourself. So consider this a little amuse bouch for the New Year.
(virtually only ratios altered from Yotam Ottolenghi’s ‘Plenty’)
1-2 medium aubergine for this dish (but make as many as you can)
2 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar (alternative: balsamic)
4 tbsp olive oil
150g lentils (Black Beluga I love for this dish as they keep their shape but Puy will do)
5 small carrots
4 celery sticks
2 bay leaf
3 sprigs of thyme (or a little dried if you are at a pinch)
1/2 white onion
18 cherry tomatoes
1/3 tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp fresh coriander
1 tbsp fresh dill
1 tbsp fresh parsley
salt, black pepper
optional: 2 tbsp yoghurt (or creme fraiche)
Although the traditional way to cook aubergines is oven an open flame, I prefer making them under the grill so I can prepare as many as possible in one go.
Grill: Line a baking tray with a double layer of aluminum foil. Pierce aubergines a few times with a fork (to stop them from exploding.) Place them directly under a hot grill for about 1 hour, turning them a few times. The aubergines should deflate and the skin should burn and break.
Hob: Pierce aubergine a few times with fork. Place them directly over two moderate, open flames. Roast until burnt (about 15 min).
- Rinse the lentils. Place them in a medium saucepan.
- Cut 2 carrots and 1 celery stick into large pieces. Add to lentils.
- Add 1/2 onion in one piece as well as bay leaves and thyme to the pot.
- Cover with plenty of water, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for about 25 min (or until lentils are tender but not mushy.)
- Drain in a sieve and remove all the vegetables and herbs.
- Transfer lentils to a mixing bowl, add 2 tbsp olive oil and 2 tbsp vinegar.
- Season with plenty of pepper and especially salt.
- Set aside somewhere warm (this dish is best served warm but can be served at room temperature.)
- Whilst the lentils are cooking, cut remaining 3 carrots and 3 celery sticks into 1-2 cm chunks.
- Cut the cherry tomatoes in half.
- Throw the vegetables into a large oven dish and mix with1 tbsp olive oil, the sugar and some salt.
- Cook in the oven for 20 min until carrot is tender but still firm.
- Chop the coriander, dill, parsley.
- Add 2/3 of the vegetables and herbs to the lentils. Carefully combine.
- Taste to adjust seasoning.
- Spoon lentils onto serving dish. Top with remaining vegetables and herbs.
- Pile aubergine on the top.
- Add a dollop of yoghurt if using.
Tips & Variations
- If you are rushed for time skip roasting the aubergine and steam some fish instead
- If you do have the time to make the aubergine make plenty refrigerate or freeze it to use for baba ganouch dip
- Some blanched green beans