This is an eggplant salad that proves two things: 1) that lentils have an undeservedly bad reputation for being bland and boring (you’re just cooking them wrong!); and 2) that eggplant really is one of the best vegetables in the world to roast in the oven. Combine them together and you have a winner of a salad!
Lentil and Roasted Eggplant Salad
I feel like this eggplant salad is unleashing my Ottolenghi within. Except (dare I say it, at the risk of offending his loyal fans!) this calls for a heck of a lot less ingredients, they are all “normal” things and you won’t just make this once and be exhausted, you will make it over and over again.
(Also, you’re getting this recipe for free – his cookbooks are rather expensive!!)
So what makes this lentil salad so good? Here’s why:
- Lentils cooked in an aromatic broth to infuse with flavour
- Eggplant roasted so they’re plump and meltingly tender inside, caramelised on the outside
- It’s all tossed in a lemony garlicky dressing
- It’s meaty, it’s satisfying, it’s interesting
- It keeps well!
Oh – and it’s just downright tasty. Of course! That’s why I went to the effort of photographing / filming / writing it up!!
What you need to make the tasty lentils!
Here’s what you need to make bland boring lentils ultra tasty – and I exaggerate not when I say you’ll be eating it straight out of the pot! (Well, colander
Use green lentils, brown lentils or French/puy lentils for this recipe. Dried is best because they will absorb the flavoured broth as they cook, but I’ve popped directions in the recipe for using canned as well.
The roasted eggplant
Here’s all you need to make the roasted eggplant. I actually shared the recipe for roasted eggplant separately about 10 minutes ago (being that knowing how to roast eggplant so they’re plump and juicy inside and caramelised on the outside is a handy thing in life because nobody wants to serve up a tray of mushy eggplant or dry shrivelled up ones at that), thinking I’d link through to this recipe.
But no, that’s inconvenient for YOU.
And the salad stuff (plus dressing)
And here’s the other “stuff” that goes into the eggplant salad and the garlic lemon dressing.
As regular readers know, I always like my substantial salads to have some sort of little treat, whether it’s a sprinkling of nuts or pomegranate or parmesan. Today, it’s feta!
How to make this lentil eggplant salad
And here’s how to make this salad. It dawned on me as I was writing out the recipe that it looks like there’s a lot of steps and lots of ingredients. But it really isn’t a tricky or lengthy recipe. Actually, it flows quite nicely – while the eggplant and lentils are cooking, make the dressing and get the salad add ins ready, then it all comes together.
The eggplant really is the star here…not that I want to talk down the lentils (because they likely will be some of the tastiest quick ‘n easy braised lentils you’ve ever had), but just LOOK at the eggplant! Plump, juicy, caramelised that rather than a pile of mush or shrivelled up disaster!
How to serve this Eggplant Salad
This is a mighty salad that deserves to be served as a main. It should serve 4 normal adults, or 3 with very hearty appetites. A side of crusty bread would certainly fill it out (hot, with lashings of butter!). Or try it with flatbreads – tear bits off and stuff with this salad!
But it’s also a sensational side, a good one to take somewhere when you’re relegated to bringing “just” a side salad (I’ve sulked about this before and it’s been the catalyst for previous Show Off Salads like this Apple Salad). Not only because it’s something different and it looks impressive when you pile it up high on a plate, but also because unlike most salads, it keeps very well even once dressed and it’s terrific either warm OR at room temp (I honestly can’t say which is better).
Which also makes it really good for a work lunch. I’m not sure that your work colleagues will be overly jealous when you tell them you’re having eggplant salad. But that’s ok. That your lunch trumps theirs can be our little secret.
Watch how to make it
Roasted Eggplant Lentil Salad
Great to serve at a brunch as a main – it holds up well for hours. Serve warm, or at room temp. Serves 3 to 4 as main, 8 – 10 as a side.
- 1 cup dried green or brown lentils (or French/puy) (Note 1 for canned)
- 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth (or water + 1 bouillon cube, crumbled)
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 large garlic clove , smashed, skin removed (Note 2)
- Lemon peel (about 1.5 x 5 cm / 3/4 x 2″)
- 1 bay leaf , dry or fresh
- 2 sprigs thyme , or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1 rib celery , broken into 3 or 4 pieces (or just a handful of celery leaves, can skip)
- 600g / 1.2 lb eggplant / aubergine (2 medium)
- 2 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 tsp EACH salt and pepper
Garlic Lemon Dressing:
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 garlic clove , minced using garlic press
- 1 tsp thyme leaves , fresh (or 1/2 ts dried – can omit, or other herbs, Note 3)
- 1 tsp sugar , optional
- 1/2 tsp EACH salt + black pepper
- 250g/ 8 oz cherry tomatoes , halved (large quartered)
- 2 handfuls rocket / arugula lettuce , torn into 5cm/2″ pieces
- 60g/ 2 oz feta , crumbled (or more!)
Dressing – shake in a jar.
Place Lentil ingredients in a saucepan, bring to simmer then place lid on. Cook for 20 minutes (for al dente – I like this), or 25 minutes (for soft), stirring occasionally.
Drain, then pick out all the flavouring bits (garlic etc). BRIEFLY rinse – don’t wash off all the flavour! Shake off excess water well.
Preheat oven to 240°C / 450°F (220°C fan). Line a tray with parchment/baking paper.
Cut eggplant into large cubes – 3 cm / 1.2″. Place in large bowl, drizzle with oil, salt and pepper.
Toss well, spread on tray, roast 20 minutes. Turn, roast for a further 10 minutes – edges should be caramelised, soft inside, but they’re not shrivelled up and dismal.
Add tomato and rocket into lentils, drizzle over most of the Dressing then toss.
Pour onto serving platter. Pile over eggplant.
Drizzle eggplant with remaining Dressing, sprinkle with feta . Serve warm or at room temp! Great with a side of flatbread or this easy crusty bread.
I don’t recommend red or yellow lentils, they get too soft (they’re ideal of lentil curries like Dal and this coconut on).
CANNED LENTILS: Use 2 cans, drain and rinse, then microwave briefly until warmed through. Pour over some of the dressing (hot lentils soak up flavour better), stir then leave to marinate for 1 hr+ (even overnight is fine). Then proceed with recipe.
2. Garlic – use side of knife, hit palm down on it to make the garlic burst open but (mostly) hold together. This release garlic flavour into the broth but still easy to pick out at the end.
3. Other herbs – I’m particularly fond of thyme with eggplant. But parsley, chives or finely chopped green onions or work very well. Coriander/cilantro is excellent as well and will give it a Middle Eastern vibe.
4. Storage – keeps well for 2 to 3 days! Eggplant does get sweaty (it’s a juicy veg, it’s inevitable!) but it’s still a fabulously “meaty” satisfying salad. Be sure to bring to room temp or even warm it up a touch, and toss well. Might need a fresh squeeze of lemon.
5. Nutrition per serving, assuming 4 servings.
More big, satisfying main course salads
Life of Dozer
When he spent the day with the boarder and I met her at the dog park for handover – the pretty young one on top is Priscilla – Dozer’s the old face squeezing under her! He’s so pushy.
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