Eggplant lentil bake

I’ve been feeling pretty creatively drained this week. I’m working on a big freelance project that’s really challenging and requires a lot more creativity than my usual editing work does. So it’s definitely a good thing, and I’m learning a lot while I do it which is always a bonus, but I feel like my brain is fried! I spent all of last night dreaming about trying to overcome some of the blocks I still have to solve – to no avail, regrettably.

In an attempt to stimulate my brain, I went for a walk and basically listened to Justin Bieber’s Sorry and the first 10 minutes of this symphony – usually guaranteed to make me feel like I’m in a novel/get my creative juices going – over and over again. And while I did feel revitalized, I still don’t have answers! Sigh.
They’ll come, surely…

What does this all have to do with an eggplant lentil bake, you ask?

eggplant lentil bake

Good question! Absolutely nothing.

It’s simply a delicious dish that also happens to serve as a vessel for maximum roasted eggplant consumption.

eggplant lentil bake

This eggplant lentil bake is actually a sort of memorized reconstruction of a vegetarian moussaka recipe my mom gave me years ago. I was obsessed with it for a while, and I remember making it a few times for Katerz‘s fam when I lived with them out on the West Coast for a summer – I guess it was sort of my ‘signature dish’. And then, as always happens when you obsess over something for too long, I suppose I got tired of it and forgot about it for a while.

At this point it resurfaces every few months, brings a lot of joy, and is then forgotten again. It’s sort of like that comfy old sweatshirt you have in your closet – the one that’s got a stain or two on it and that maybe has some sort of logo or saying that doesn’t really apply to your life anymore – the one that you forget you have but that whenever you do rediscover, you don’t take off for a week because it’s just so comfy and you don’t need to worry about the cat pulling threads or spilling any coffee on it since that ship sailed so long ago it’s across the world by now.

eggplant lentil bake

eggplant lentil bake

Maybe that’s a weird analogy to use to try to convince you that this thing is delicious. Maybe my brain really is super fried right now!

But sometimes I get a craving for a nameless, faceless comfort. Something simple, something easy, something really familiar – not to mention something delicious and filling! To me, this eggplant lentil bake embodies that craving. Of course, I did originally get the recipe from my mom so I suppose I’m rather biased.

So yes. This eggplant lentil bake is delicious and comforting and hearty. And it reheats excellently, I might add. So make it!

eggplant lentil bake

In my work as an editor, I often have to leave comment boxes beside people’s hard work with super annoying/demoralizing notes like ‘What do you mean?’ or ‘Why is this relevant?’ or ‘HUH?!’ (Just kidding on that last one… or am I?) I suspect this post could benefit from editor Soph doing a little round here before I hit publish… but editor Soph has checked out of this brain for the moment, so we’re just going to roll with this. Bear with me!

Happy almost Friday all!

xx

PS. An update: when I started to write this post I put on a ‘movie classics’ playlist on Spotify and have since listened to Come What May from Moulin Rouge four times. FOUR TIMES. And onto number five…

Eggplant lentil bake

Total Time: 60 minutes

Yield: 4-6 portions

Eggplant lentil bake

Ingredients

400 g (2 cups) canned diced tomato
2 tbsp (70 g) tomato paste
3 cups cooked or canned brown lentils (I used beluga)
1 yellow onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 eggplants, cut into roughly 1 cm-thick discs
400 g (about 3-4 cups with stems) button mushrooms, stems removed and thinly sliced
3 tbsp dried oregano
olive oil for roasting and sautéing
salt & pepper
2 eggs
60 ml (1/4 cup) milk or water
1/2 cup grated parmesan
100 g fresh mozzarella, shredded

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 225 c/435 f. In a big bowl, toss the eggplant pieces with enough olive oil to coat them and a big pinch of salt. (You could also use a brush to coat each piece individually.) Lay flat on a baking sheet (preferably lined with baking paper, or use extra oil) and pop into the oven for about 15 minutes.
2. While the eggplant gets going, in a pan over medium-high heat warm about 1/2 tbsp of oil. Sauté the onion with a big pinch of salt until translucent - about 5-6 minutes.
3. Add in the mushrooms and allow to cook down. Depending on how big your pan, this could take between 5 and 10 minutes. You want to let them release most of their moisture and start to brown a bit, but don't worry about achieving too much caramelization.
4. Add in the garlic and sauté another minute or so, then throw in the tomato paste and the oregano and cook through - about 1 more minute.
5. Add in the canned tomatoes and bring everything to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Meanwhile, after 15 minutes in the oven, take the eggplant out and press down on it with the back of a spatula. This will allow any excess moisture to be released. Flip each piece. If things are looking quite dry, and/or if pressing down didn't release much moisture, toss the eggplant with a bit more oil (you can do this on the sheet pan with your spatula - no need to grab that bowl again!). Then return to the oven for another 15-20 minutes, or until the eggplant is golden brown and buttery soft. Reduce the oven temperature to 175c/350f.
7. Once your tomato sauce has come to a simmer, add in the lentils and warm them through. Remove from the heat and set aside.
8. In a small bowl, beat together the milk/water and eggs. Mix in the parmesan, then set aside.
9. Now it's time to assemble! In a medium-sized baking dish (mine is 8in x 6in x 2.5in OR 20cm x 15cm x 6cm), start with a layer of the eggplant slices (about 1/3 of the eggplant). Then add in half of your lentil concoction. Follow this by another round of eggplant (another 1/3), the rest of the lentils, and the rest of the eggplant.
10. Pour the egg mixture over the top of the eggplant, then dot with the fresh mozzarella and finish everything off with a crack of black pepper.
11. Cover and bake until the egg mixture is cooked through, about 20 minutes, then increase the heat back to 225c/425f and uncover to allow the mozzarella to brown nicely - about 5 minutes.
12. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly, then serve and enjoy!

Notes

I've noted that this yields 4-6 portions, but you know the people you're serving best. For example, Pieter can do serious damage on this baby while I'm stuffed after about 1/6th of it!

http://feastwithsophie.com/index.php/2015/12/03/eggplant-lentil-bake/

Comments

  1. says

    Not to be judgmental, but I will unfortunately have to unfollow you now since you mentioned you listen to the Biebs. lol! Just kidding. Of course, I’ll never unfollow up because you make kick-ass recipes, like this one! You know I’m trying to cut back on my meat consumption (I’m making vegetarian meals twice a week now) and I adore eggplant (and moussaka) so will have to try this very soon. BTW, I totally understand the creatively zapping because I get that way too when I have to do work related stuff that doesn’t involve cooking. Hope your brain is better now :)

    • sophie says

      HAH!!! I judge myself for listening to him too but his new songs are so darn catchy. Usually when I know someone’s a crap person I can easily transfer those feelings to their music and just not listen… but I am powerless to resist those beats!!
      I’m glad you get my creativity issue! Things are slowly getting better – actually had some new ideas for the first time in what feels like ages this week, wahoo!

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