Caponata Red Lentil Salad

Sometimes I feel the need to infuse more vegetables into my diet, and this week was one of those times.  Perhaps it is the generous amount of jelly beans I have eaten, or it could just be that the jewel like color of the eggplants at the grocery store were beckoning me. Whatever the reason, I stocked up on fresh eggplant, roma tomatoes, and celery.

I also happened to have my 3 year old along for the ride and he wanted to take home a sampling of nearly every bin in the bulk aisle (good thing he happened to be viewing the legume and rice side and didn’t turn around to see the gummy items in the nearby bins). I was happy to obliged and returned home with red lentils, among other dried staples.

red lentils

I decided to pair the vegetables and the lentils together for an easy to sack lunch of Caponata Red Lentil Salad. If you have never had caponata, it is an Italian dish made with eggplant and other vegetables that are coated in a sweet and sour sauce. Typically, onions, celery, tomato paste, and capers are included and the sauce is a sweetened vinegar.  I made my caponata with fresh tomatoes instead of paste to give it a lighter taste, and simply stirred in my al dente red lentils to make the salad.  It has been a refreshing lunch to pack this week, and I feel good knowing that my meal is super healthy!

Caponata Lentil Salad3

Caponata Lentil Salad

Caponata Lentil Salad

Caponata Red Lentil Salad

¼ cup olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onions
1 cup chopped celery ribs
1 large eggplant, cut into cubes (~1 pound)
1 cup diced tomato, divided
6 ½ cups water, divided
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups red lentils
1 cup chopped green olives
¼ cup capers
¾ cup red vinegar
3 Tablespoons white sugar

 

Add olive oil to a large saute pan and heat over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and cook for 6 minutes, then add the celery and cook for six minutes longer, stirring frequently.  Add the eggplant, half of the tomatoes, and ½ cup of water and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the remainder of the tomatoes and stir for another 10 minutes.

While the vegetables are cooking, prepare the lentils.  Add the 6 cups of water and salt to a 3 quart pan and bring to a boil.  Add the lentils and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until the lentils are tender chewy but still remain their shape.  Drain the lentils and add to a large bowl.

Once the vegetables have cooked down, remove from the heat and add to the bowl with the lentils.  Add the olives and the capers to the bowl.  In a separate bowl, stir together the vinegar and sugar and then pour over the lentil mixture.  Stir the lentils to coat and mix evenly with the vegetables.  Chill before serving, preferably overnight to let the flavors marinate.

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Babaganoush

With January 1st comes a re-commitment to New Year’s resolutions, resolutions such as:

(1) Eating healthier
(2) Trying something new

You can accomplish both with the babaganoush I made this week. Babaganoush is a an eggplant based dip with a variety of other spices depending on the origin of the recipe you use. I have used Ellie Krieger’s recipe with a few tweaks on quantity ( I increased the garlic and I added lemon zest and red pepper flakes) since I love her simplistic approach to the dish which borrows from the Israeli (the use of tahini) and other Levantine cultures (parsley, garlic, and lemon). Since the majority of the dip is eggplant, this really is a guilt free snack!

After roasting the eggplant I blended all the ingredients except for the parsley in a food processor until smooth. I then stirred in the parsley and served it with pita wedges for a tasty appetizer. It also served as a good excuse for a gyro lunch (OK, maybe that part wasn’t so healthy).

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I hope we are all successful this year in keeping our resolutions, including the ones mentioned above!


Babaganoush

1 large eggplant (~ 1 pound)
1 teaspoon freshly minced garlic
¼  teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons lemon juice
zest of one lemon
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼  cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Fresh pita bread or pita chips

 

Preheat oven to 450 °F.

Prick eggplant with a fork and place on a cookie sheet. Bake the eggplant until it is soft inside, about 20-30 minutes. Remove the eggplant from the oven and let cool, then cut the eggplant in half and scoop the pulp into a food processor. Add the garlic, salt, tahini, lemon juice, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes to the food processor and process the ingredients until a smooth dip is formed. Transfer to a medium sized bowl, stir in the parsley, and serve with pita wedges or pita chips.

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