Red Lentil Ratatouille

It’s been a while since I’ve had the time to update ye old blog.  Not sure where 2014 has gotten to, but it’s certainly getting away from me!  So far the year is off to a good start, and after another amazing dinner with friends at Nuba in January I decided that my ingredient of the year would be eggplant.  It’s so versatile and you can almost completely disguise it in things which is cool.  The problem is that I’m pretty crappy at cooking it.  I haven’t had many flops, but one of my worst was an eggplant lasagne that was underdone.  Let’s just say there’s nothing worse in this world than undercooked eggplant.

Oh yeah, and we got a new camera for Christmas, so now you’ll get to see nice photos that are actually mine on the blog!

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I don’t always like following other people’s recipes, but I do like modifying them (this is modified from Market Vegetarian), which has really helped me with my transition to vegetarianism.  I love the idea of French and Indian flavours melting into one another so I decided to make this recipe for eggplant, tomato and red lentil curry my own.

Here’s my recipe:

  • 1 large eggplant, sliced in half and then cut each half into eights
  • olive oil
  • 1-2 ripe tomatoes
  • 1/2 c passata (or tomato sauce)
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 T fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 T each chilli powder, cumin and curry powder
  •  2 cups veggie stock (you can use water if you want)
  • 1/4 cup roasted red peppers
  • 1 cup split red lentils, rinsed
  • Fresh basil, torn

In a large pot over medium high heat cook the eggplant until browned on all sides, and it releases the oil back to the pan.  This takes a while so be careful not to burn your eggplant in the process.  Then remove the eggplant to a small bowl and set aside.  Cook the onion, garlic and ginger until fragrant soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes until they start to break up.  Then add in the spices and brown slightly.  The key to a good Indian dish I’ve learned is that you have to cook out the spices!  Add the passata once the spices have done their thing, and also allow it to cook down a little.  Once that’s done add in the lentils and the stock and let it simmer covered, stirring occasionally.  I added my eggplant back in after things had simmered about 10 minutes.  Then I let it simmer another 15 minutes or so, adding more stock as I needed to.  I like my lentils to be very done, and I enjoyed the way the eggplant sort of melted into everything else.  This was not the intent of the recipe I modified, but in my kitchen I do things my way!  If you do happen to undercook your eggplant (mine was a bit underdone) throw it in with the lentils sooner rather than later and it will just cook along with everything else and absorb more flavour.

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The result, served over some basmati rice, was hearty, flavourful and delicious.  My husband was sad that there wasn’t more leftover.  The above recipe yielded 3 large dinner portions, so I think next time I’ll double it.  You could get 4 servings out of it if you served it with a salad or some samosas.  Enjoy!

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