When I was growing up, my auntie Sophie often made a big pan of tomatoey lentils when we went around. This version is a nod to a traditional Italian meat ragù, but I have added eggplant instead, served with soft polenta and wilted greens.
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 onions, minced
- 2 eggplants, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 2 bay leaves
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1 cup red wine
- 2 (14-ounce) cans beluga lentils, drained and rinsed
- 1 (28-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a large frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil, add the onions, and soften over low heat for about 10–15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in another frying pan, heat the remaining oil, add the eggplant and a pinch of salt, then fry on high for 5–10 minutes, stirring often, until the eggplant cubes are golden. Set aside.
By this point, the onions should be soft and tinged golden. Add the garlic, fennel seeds, bay leaves, and red pepper flakes. Fry for another 2–3 minutes, then tip in the wine. Bring to a boil, and boil until it has reduced by two-thirds in volume (this shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes). Last, but not least, add the lentils, tomatoes, and the browned eggplant cubes. Season, and reduce the heat, then simmer for 15–20 minutes until the sauce has thickened a little, and the eggplant is buttery soft.
This ragù is great with soft polenta, pasta, or served simply with a hunk of bread. Just before serving, fish out the bay leaves.
Recipe reprinted with permission from “Take One Can: 80 Delicious Meals From the Pantry” by Lola Milne. Published by Kyle Books.