My “Vegetable of the Week” had to be something comforting and belly filling that goes with the these dark and cold winter evenings. So this week I am serving aubergine (eggplant) cooked into a creamy one-pot wonder with lentils.
I am not sure what it is about this dish, it is not fancy tasting or beautiful looking, but I have been cooking it over and over again in the last few weeks. Maybe it is because it comes together in just about half an hour. Maybe it is because it takes hardly any effort – just a little chopping and some stirring and in the end there is only one pot that needs washing.
But I think, mainly it is the earthy taste in combination with the soothing texture – every single spoonful brings a feeling of total comfort and warm fuzzies. The only problem is that I am always left wanting seconds and thirds, fourths and…. Well, you get the picture. At some point I even stopped cooking double portions as the second serving never made it to the next day.
I will be honest, this is not a dish you serve guests. It is not fancy or complex; this is honest weekday fare you make for your family or just for yourself.
There is only one secret you need to know to make this dish work: always taste it a few times towards the end of the cooking time and season it until it tastes so good you do not want to put the spoon down. Be prepared that the first bite will not blow your socks off. The secret is adding just the right amount of balsamic vinegar, lemon and salt. (I realise that balsamic is not authentically Lebanese, but in my opinion is absolutely essential.)
Now there is only one more question to answer: To peel or not to peel? You can go either way. Peeling the aubergine will result in a more creamy stew. I leave the skin on: I prefer the texture, a large amount of the nutrients of the aubergine are in the skin and last (but certainly not least) it is less work.
2 red onions
1-2 garlic cloves
150g lentils (I like green lentils for this dish although Puy or French would also be good)
½ cube vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
2 large or 3 medium aubergines
balsamic vinegar (the secret ingredient)
optional: ground chili flakes
optional: chopped flat-leaf parsley or coriander (cilantro)
optional: pomegranate seeds
- Chop the onion finely.
- In a pot heat the oil and gently fry the onion until translucent.
- Squeeze in garlic and fry until soft.
- Wash the lentils and add.
- Add the water.
- Sprinkle in the stock.
- Add bay leaves.
- Cover with a lid and bring to the boil.
- Turn down the heat to low and cook 10 min.
- Cut the aubergine into chunks (you can peel them as well). Add to the lentils after they have cooked 10 min. Cover again with the lid.
- Stir around every 10 min and cook until the lentils are tender and the stew is the consistency you like. With peeled aubergine this is around 20-30 min with unpeeled 30-40 min.
- Now for the important bit: this dish is nothing if you do not season it right. Add about 1 tbsp of balsamic, salt and pepper. Now taste – usually with the first bite you will doubt how this could ever turn interesting. With the right amount of balsamic and salt it will taste fabulous.
- I usually only have some cooked green beans on the side, but it would also be great with
- Spicy kofta
- Lamb chops
Other aubergine recipes
Some of the health benefits
- Low in calories, no fat and high in fiber.
- Good for the heart: Research studies show they can lower ‘bad’ cholesterol. But you must cook them the right way to get these benefits.
- Improve blood circulation and nourish the brain. But remember—these nutrients are concentrated in the skin of the eggplant.
- Relieve stress through being high in bioflavonoids.
- Strengthens the capillaries and prevents blood clots with vitamin K.
- And if that was not enough, they are full or iron, calcium and other minerals.