Lentils with Fresh Herbs & Broiled Eggplant from “Plenty” by Yotam Ottolenghi

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Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi is an amazing work of art.  It is a cookbook with some serious soul.  Incredibly vibrant.  Some cookbooks excite me, and this is definitely one of those that does.  In fact it makes my mouth water and my head spin, because I want to make so many of the recipes.

The pictures are incredible, soulful and real.  The layout is simple in the best of ways.  Easy to read and follow which is incredibly helpful when actually trying to make some of the recipes.  The recipes are creative and inspiring but not overly complicated.

The book is vegetarian, but not vegan.  It is organized by ingredients, so if you are looking for a recipe with green beans, they will all be within a few pages of each other.  It is hard to decide which recipe to make from this book first because they all look so good.  I look forward to the next one.  I don’t think this book will be headed back to the bookcase anytime soon.

I came across this book on a recent trip to Boston.  I strolled into Raven used Book Store on Newbury Street.  I was very pleased to find this book because I had read about it online from various food blogs, and was interested in checking it out.  I wasn’t looking for the book, so in a way you could say it found me, and I am happy it did.  Raven book store had quite a good selection of used cookbooks and tons of other books, so if ever you find yourself in Boston, it is definitely worth checking out.  They also have a store in Cambridge.

I decided to make this particular recipe because I had some eggplants that needed to be used up, not to mention I love lentils.  The recipe I wrote below is representative of the recipe in the book, but the version I made was slightly different.  I didn’t have any cherry tomatoes so I added some tomato passata I had to the carrots.  I also added quite a bit more fresh herbs than called for.  I used parsley and dill because that’s what I had on hand.  I love adding a whole bunch of fresh herbs once something is cooked.  It can really enhance a dish.

I have never been a huge fan of cooked celery, especially if it is still crunchy.  I used it as called for in this dish, but if you don’t love cooked celery like me, you can easily leave it out.

I know that broiled eggplant doesn’t look like the most appetizing thing in the world, but it is one of my favourite ways to cook eggplant.  Roast a few more while you are at it and make some baba ganoush (recipe).

For those of you who are interested,  Yotam just published another cookbook called Jerusalem.   I think the title is self explanatory.  Needless to say Jerusalem is not a vegetarian cookbook, but it is also beautiful and incredibly soulful.  I don’t have it yet but browsed through it at the bookstore, and will most likely be adding it to my collection in the near future.  Once you get a feel for the energy, passion and beauty of Yotam’s books you will want to add his books to your cookbook collection.

Lentils Broiled Eggplant

Note: This recipe is from the cookbook “Plenty” by Yotam Ottolenghi

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2 medium eggplants
2 tbsp top quality red wine vinegar
salt and black pepper
1 cup small dark green lentils (Puy)
3 small carrots, peeled
2 celery stalks
1 bay leaf
3 thyme sprigs
1/2 white onion
3 tbsp olive oil, plus more to finish
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp each of roughly chopped parsley, cilantro and dill

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Preheat the oven to broil.

Pierce the eggplants several times all around with a fork.  This will let the steam out as they cook to prevent them from exploding in the oven.  Place them in a foil lined baking dish and place directly under the broiler for about an hour turning a few times throughout.  The eggplants should deflate and the skin should be completely burnt.

Remove the eggplants from the oven.  Now change the temperature to 275F.  After the eggplants have cooled for a few minutes cut a slit lengthwise down the middle and scoop out all the flesh making sure to avoid the black skin. Place the flesh in a colander and drain until ready to serve.  Season with salt and pepper and 1/2 tablespoon of the vinegar before serving.

When the eggplants are almost done place the lentils in a medium saucepan. Cut one carrot and one celery stalk into chunks and add them in along with the bay leaf, thyme, and onion.  Cover with plenty of water and bring to the boil.  Simmer on low heat for 20-25 minutes or until the lentils are tender.  Drain and remove the the carrot, celery, bay leaf, thyme and onion. Transfer the lentils to a large bowl mixing bowl.  Add the rest of the vinegar, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and plenty of salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Once you remove the eggplants from the oven it is time to cook the rest of the veggies.  Dice the celery and carrot and mix with the tomatoes, 1 tbsp olive oil, the sugar, and some salt.  Place in an ovenproof dish and cook in the oven for about 20 minutes until the carrots are cooked but still firm.

Add the cooked vegetables to the warm lentils, followed by the chopped herbs.  Adjust the seasoning to taste.

Serve topped with a portion of broiled eggplant. Finish it with a drizzle of olive oil.

 

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