I just renewed my apartment contract again for 2015 and decided that since I’m not terribly busy anymore with work things, I should – for once and for all – take a close look to the many, many things which have taken space-hogging residence in my apartment. Somehow after 8 years in this apartment, my things have exponentially grown in volume, and although they came here with good reasons, a serious decluttering need to take place. The effort will be a huge undertaking, especially since it will require a steel emotion (e.g. standing strong to some emotional/guilt trip such as… “Awww, but so-and-so got this for me somewhere”, “Ah! Surely I can fix it if I take it to the service man — something you’ve told yourself for at least 5 years –, “But, but, but, it was from that time I was in Greece…”, etc. ).
My pantry is no exception to this. I’m going through the drawers and shelves with an iron fist. If it is already expired – chuck it. If it’s almost expiring and you have multiple containers – donate it to a food drive, give it to the hungry homeless people around the neighbourhood. If there are things that looks remotely interesting, souvenirs from some holidays, etc, well maybe keep some, but anything outdated must go.
In this line of thinking, I have also decided to not buy anything for the pantry anymore unless it is fresh produce and pantry staples like flour or rice etc. In this raid, I came across a large collection of quinoa, couscous, dal (red lentils), dried chick peas, all sorts of legumes and lastly… I found some BROWN LENTILS!
Oh yay! I totally forgot I have a bag of it. Ho ho ho! I just came across a recipe in Yotam Ottolenghi’s “Plenty” for pulses/legumes that I’ve been intrigued to try. whilst it’s paired with broiled eggplant in the book, I am pretty convince that this would also work very well with other main dish like grilled fish, poultry or meats.
Yeah, I think it’s OK to postpone the decluttering mission to another day. It is now time to play in the kitchen!
Lentils with broiled eggplant
As mentioned above, the recipe in the book is pairing it with broiled eggplant as below, but I have paired it with some grilled salmon, braised lamb shanks, and simple grilled steaks. I will write a follow up post on the braised lamb shanks at a latter date.
Adapted from “Plenty” by Yotam Ottolenghi
For the eggplants:
Tools: griller net
Total cook time: 5 minutes preparation, 25 cooking and waiting
- 8 small Japanese eggplants (about 15-20 cm long each)
- 2 Tbsp red-wine vinegar
- salt and blackpepper
- Grill the eggplant over a gas grill, directly on top of fire, rotating it around until the skin is completely charred, about 10 minutes.
- Let the eggplant cool and peel off the charred skin completely. (Tip: I often put the charred eggplant in a plastic bag after grilling to let it cool down and can peel the eggplant very easily). Depending on the type of eggplant, some can contain quite a lot of liquid. If that is the case, then leave to drain for at least 15 minutes. Afterward season with plenty of salt and pepper and 1/2 Tbsp of the vinegar. Set aside.
For the lentils
Tools: saucepan/soup pot
Total cook time: 10 minutes preparation, 30 minutes cook time
- 1 cup small brown lentils (such as Puy or Castelluccio), rinsed
- 3 small carrots, peeled
- 1 celery stalks and leaves
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 white onion
- 3 Tbsp olive oil, plus extra to finish
- 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 tsp brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp chopped cilantro (the original recipe suggested to also add 1 Tbsp of chopped parsley and dill)
- 2 Tbsp yogurt (note: the original recipe asked for creme fraiche)
Directions (While the eggplants are being cooked…)
- Place the lentils in a medium saucepan. Cut one carrot and half a celery stalk into large chunks and throw them in. Add the bay leaf, thyme, and onion (don’t chop it, keep it in half. I chopped the onion in the first try, and it went soggy and made it very difficult to pick through afterwards). Cover with plenty of water and bring to the boil. Simmer on low heat for up to 25 minutes (or until lentils are tender), skimming away the froth from the surface from time to time.
- Drain in a sieve/colander. Remove and discard the carrot, celery, bay leaf, thyme and onion bits. Transfer the lentils to a mixing bowl. Add the rest of the vinegar, 2 Tbsp of olive oil and plenty of salt and pepper, stir and set aside somewhere warm (I actually put the lentils back in the now empty saucepan).
- Cut the remaining carrot and celery (stalks and leaves bits) into 1 cm dice and mix with the tomatoes, remaining oil, sugar and some salt. Spread in an ovenproof dish (best to be pre-sprayed in olive oil spray) and cook in the oven for about 20 minutes (temperature was 180C), or until the carrot is tender but still firm.
- Add the cooked vegetables to the warm lentils, followed by the chopped herbs and stir gently. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Spoon the lentils onto serving plates. Pile some eggplant in the center of each portion and top it with a dollop of yogurt. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil.