Jul 01, 2013

Mediterranean Lentil Bowl

Mediterranean countries are comprised of a wide variety of cultures… not to mention three different continents! Italy, Greece, Albania, France, Spain, Israel and Morocco, to name just a handful of them. So “Mediterranean cuisine” runs a large and diverse gamut.

Broadly speaking, Mediterranean cuisine is food commonly consumed in the countries adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea. Although this region spans such a wide variety of cultures, the historical connections of the region have led to there being many common elements in the foods. Eggplant, artichokes, squash, tomatoes, legumes, onions, mushrooms, okra, and a variety of greens are all commonly prepared foods in Mediterranean cooking. Herbs are used in abundance and seafood is, naturally, a commonly used ingredient in coastal areas.

Part of my heritage is Italian. My grandfather hailed from Bari which is a Mediterranean seaside city on the southwestern coast of Italy. Lentils were always a staple in my house while growing up. But always as a soup. And always with pasta. And garlic. Little did I know how many different ways they could be prepared!

This dish is a fresh variation on the lentils I grew up with.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound brown lentils
  • 7-8 cups water
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped, plus some extra for garnish
  • 2 roasted red peppers, sliced
  • 1 small-medium sized eggplant
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1-2 tsp tamari or other low sodium soy sauce (optional)
The Cathedral of Trani, Bari, Italy

Directions:

  1. Roast your peppers ahead of time. See my post on Zucchini Ribbons with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce for simple instruction on how to roast them.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  3. Rinse the lentils and place in a soup pot with 7 cups of water and the garlic.
  4. Cover and simmer until tender (about 1 hour). Check on them periodically, adding more water if needed.
  5. Slice the eggplant into rounds, about 3/4 inch thick. You can peel it if you like, I usually stripe mine.
  6. Place eggplant slices onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and roast until tender, about 30 minutes.
  7. When the lentils are done, add the red peppers, basil and lemon (and tamari if using) and simmer for another 10 minutes.
  8. Serve with brown rice, if you like. Top each bowl with one or two slices of the eggplant rounds and extra fresh basil for garnish.

Serves 4. Enjoy!

Healthy trails,

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