This is another recipe from the brilliant Ottolenghi Simple. It’s slightly adjusted to make a smaller portion as I was cooking just for myself and I thought 4 aubergines would be far too much! And anyway, I only had one. Then he used a 350g pack of precooked Puy lentils and mine was 250g … good job I’m reasonably good at maths! My fresh oregano growing in the garden looked a bit sad and lacked a strong fragrance so I put dried oregano into the lentil mix plus some chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, which was growing well! But these kind of recipes, I think, are more about a guide to making a lovely dish and not the kind of recipe that needs following to the nth degree. Though I’m not at all sure Ottolenghi would agree as he’s so precise in his measurements! The proportions of my aubergine to lentils to tomatoes was different to his but the final dish was still wonderful.
This post is for my friend Tina; one of my oldest and closest friends. We were sitting on a terraced area of a pub at lunchtime a couple of weeks ago, which overlooks the pretty Green in the village in Surrey where she lives, a few miles south of Guildford, and we were talking food at one point (and many other things at other points!). Tina asked me if I had some good lentil recipes; she was trying to cook more vegetarian meals for the family but was concerned about getting enough protein. I had to admit I wasn’t a great lentil cook. There are a few recipes on the blog but I don’t cook them very often. However, it got me thinking, and it got me looking through Ottolenghi Simple, and I found this recipe. I think Ottolenghi must like aubergines and tomatoes as much as me for a few pages back in the book is the wonderful Bulgur with Tomatoes, Aubergine and Lemon Yoghurt, which is here on the blog (click here) and I made again only a week or two ago. Of course, this recipe is quite similar, yet also very different with the texture and flavour of the lentils rather than bulgur wheat. I served it this evening as a side dish with some griddled chicken breast, which I’d marinated for a little while in olive oil, lemon juice and seasoning. But Ottolenghi suggests it can be a main dish too and I think it would be great for a midweek or vegetarian supper on its own with a side green salad.
Even my smaller version made quite a bit; certainly enough for two (albeit smallish) mains and four sides.
Puy Lentils with Aubergine, Tomatoes & Yoghurt
- 1 aubergine, pricked with a sharp knife a few times to stop the aubergine bursting in the oven
- 200g cherry tomatoes
- 1 x 250g pack of ready prepared Puy lentils
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus a little extra for drizzling
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 small garlic clove, grated
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- about 2 tablespoons freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 100g Greek yoghurt
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 230C/Fan 210/Gas 8
Place the aubergine on a baking tray and roast for about 40 minutes (Ottolenghi said an hour but mine was done more quickly). Take it out when it’s blackening and clearly very soft. Remove to a dish and tip the tomatoes onto the baking tray, return to the oven for 12 minutes, or until the tomatoes are bursting and slightly blackening.
Split the aubergine open (be careful as it will be very hot) and scrape out the soft flesh inside with a spoon. Put in a small sieve over a bowl and allow the liquid to drain off. Throw the aubergine skin away.
While the tomatoes are cooking, prepare the lentils. Tip the lentils into a bowl. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and oregano. Season with salt and black pepper. Stir gently to combine.
When the tomatoes are cooked tip them straight on top of the lentils with the aubergine and most of the parsley (keep a little back for garnish at the end).
Gently fold everything together, mixing it all well. Transfer to a serving bowl. It was slightly warm as newly cooked but if you’re serving it later, cold, then cover with cling film and put the yoghurt on just before serving. Don’t serve fridge cold though; it should be room temperature.
Spoon the yoghurt over the top in blobs. You won’t need quite the 100g (Ottolenghi used only that much for his larger portion but I do like yoghurt on dishes like this). Put on what seems right to you. Then use a knife and mix slightly, cutting through so it goes a little streaky. Sprinkle over the rest of the parsley and drizzle over a little olive oil.
Wow! It looked amazing. And it tasted just as gorgeous as it looked. I was slightly worried the aubergine would be very smoky as I’m not fond of very smoky food, but it wasn’t. And the lovely creamy texture combined beautifully with the lentils which still had a slight bite to them. Then there was the fabulous full flavour of roasted cherry tomatoes, all bound together with fruity olive oil. What a fantastic dish.