Why does any food consumed out of a bowl automatically taste better? Perhaps it’s the fluid motion of scooping up many food items at once with a spoon rather than stabbing many food items in quick succession with a fork. Perhaps we correlate bowls with some of our favorite comfort foods, such as luscious ice creams, sugary cereals, or gooey piles of mac & cheese. The ability to layer, mix, and match seems to meld more logically and beautifully in a bowl. This creation is certainly no different. I’m not even kidding: I’ve made this recipe and served it to myself on a plate once. It tasted infinitely better in a bowl. It may be a crafty mental trick that I am unknowingly playing upon myself, but dammit, I don’t care! Ha!
The recipe came from one of those classic “I really ought to use up a bunch of dying produce in the fridge” nights. I vaguely recall seeing a photo of red lentils with roasted eggplant floating along my Instagram feed on the day I first attempted this recipe, so I’ll herald that photo as absolute inspiration.
Eggplant is one of those wonderful vegetables that trips me out a bit. The vibrant streaked purple skins yield a grassy tasting interior that tends to squeak a bit as I cut my knife into its buoyant foam core-esque middle. In my opinion, it has a distinct flavor, but still manages to work as an excellent blank palate. There are so many flavors in this dish that meld well. The lentils add an almost (dare I say) chicken-y flavor to the dish, the caramelized onions add a buttery sweetness, and the yogurt sauce mellows everything out.
Plus, this dish is filling. All together, this’ll make me dinner one night and two days worth of lunch. BOOM. Fibrous food and cost savings, for the win!
Red Lentils with Sautéed Eggplant & Caramelized Onions
-1 large eggplant, diced
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-2 cups red lentils, uncooked
-1 cup water
-1 teaspoon turmeric
-1 teaspoon garlic powder
-Salt, to taste
-3 tablespoons butter
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-1/2 tablespoon white sugar
-1 large white onion, diced
-2 heaping tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
-Salt, garlic powder, dill, and olive oil, to taste
Before We Get Started…
-Lentils can be a bit intimidating for the novice cooker. Though I’ll provide instructions, The Kitchn provides a wonderful tutorial on how to cook lentils on a stovetop.
1.) Prepare lentils; in a bowl, combine dried lentils with turmeric and garlic powder. In a medium-sized saucepan, bring water to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Add lentils and cook on low, allowing lentils to simmer. Cook lentils for 20 – 30 minutes, uncovered, until desired tenderness is reached. Be sure that the lentils are always slightly covered with water while cooking; add more water, if necessary. Remove from heat and cover.
2.) Prepare caramelized onions; in a medium-sized saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add olive oil and sugar and stir. Add onions and coat. Turn heat to low and continue to cook and stir for a minimum of 20 minutes, or until onions reach desired level of caramelization. Keep onions in pan, place lid on pan, and set aside until ready to serve.
3.) Prepare eggplant; add olive oil to large sauté pan and turn heat to medium-high. Add diced eggplant and cook for 5 minutes or until desired level of tenderness is reached.
4.) Prepare yogurt sauce; combine all ingredients in bowl.
5.) In a serving bowl, layer lentils, eggplant, and caramelized onions. Top with yogurt sauce.