Roasted Eggplant With Tahini, Pine Nuts and Lentils

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Provided by seriouseats.com

It’s easy to think of eggplant as a vegetable because we find it in so many savory dishes. But eggplant, also called aubergine, is actually a tropical fruit. Eggplant parm, for various reasons, has earned its status as one of the most beloved Italian American dishes. However, if this your only experience with eggplant, let us introduce you to a whole new world.

From a smoky roasted eggplant dip to a vegan stir-fry filled with chunks of glazed eggplant, these recipes take a different look at the eggplant and never leave flavor behind.

This dish of eggplant, roasted until caramelized and tender, then served over stewed lentils with an extraordinarily light and creamy tahini sauce and crunchy pine nuts, is a great fall dinner or lunch meal.

DIRECTIONS

For the Lentils: Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 450°F to prepare for roasting eggplant. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add carrots, celery and onion and cook, stirring, until softened but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add lentils, bay leaves, stock or water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer, cover with the lid partially ajar and cook until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. (Top up with water if lentils are at any point not fully submerged.) Remove lid, stir in vinegar and reduce until lentils are moist but not soupy. Season to taste with salt and pepper, cover and keep warm until ready to serve.

For the Eggplant: While lentils cook, cut each eggplant in half. Score flesh with the tip of a paring knife in a crosshatch pattern at 1-inch intervals. Transfer to a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet, cut-side up, and brush each eggplant half with 1 tablespoon oil, letting each brushstroke be fully absorbed before brushing with more. Season with salt and pepper. Place a rosemary sprig on top of each one. Transfer to oven and roast until completely tender and well charred, 25 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven and discard rosemary.

To Serve: Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and pine nuts in a medium skillet set over medium heat. Cook, tossing nuts frequently, until golden brown and aromatic, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl to halt cooking. Stir half of parsley and rosemary into lentils and transfer to a serving platter. Arrange eggplant halves on top. Spread a few tablespoons of tahini sauce over each eggplant half and sprinkle with pine nuts. Sprinkle with remaining parsley and rosemary, drizzle with additional olive oil and serve.

INGREDIENTS

EGGPLANT
2 large Italian or small globe eggplants, about 1 pound (450g) each

4 tablespoons (60ml) extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 large sprigs fresh rosemary

TO SERVE
2 tablespoons (30ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1/4 cup pine nuts (about 2 1/2 ounces or 70g)
1 recipe Tahini Sauce With Garlic and Lemon
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves

FOR THE LENTILS

2 tablespoons (30ml) extra-virgin olive oil
2 small carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks (about 1 cup or 170g)

2 small stalks celery, cut into 1/4-inch slices (about 1 cup or 115g)
1 medium onion, finely diced (about 1 cup or 225g)
6 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
12 ounces (340g) brown or de Puy lentils
2 bay leaves
4 cups homemade vegetable stock or water (about 1L)
Kosher salt
2 teaspoons (10ml) red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar or sherry vinegar Freshly ground black pepper

Tahini Sauce with Garlic and Lemon

DIRECTIONS

Combine garlic and lemon juice in a blender. Pulse until a pulpy puree is formed, about 15 short pulses. Transfer to a fine mesh strainer set over a large bowl. Press out as much liquid as you can with the back of a spoon or a rubber spatula, then discard solids.

Add cumin and tahini paste to lemon/garlic juice and whisk to combine. The mixture will seize up and turn pasty. Add water a few tablespoons at a time, whisking in between each addition, until a smooth, light sauce is formed. The tahini sauce should very slowly lose its shape if you let ribbons of it drop from the whisk into the bowl. Season to taste with salt and refrigerate for up to 1 1/2 weeks.

INGREDIENTS

1 whole head garlic, broken into individual unpeeled cloves (about 20 cloves)

2/3 cup fresh juice from 3 to 4 lemons (160ml)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (2g)
1 generous cup tahini paste (about 10 ounces or 300g)
Cold water
Kosher salt

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