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.
- 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|
- 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.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Rinse the lentils and place in a soup pot with 7 cups of water and the garlic.
- Cover and simmer until tender (about 1 hour). Check on them periodically, adding more water if needed.
- Slice the eggplant into rounds, about 3/4 inch thick. You can peel it if you like, I usually stripe mine.
- Place eggplant slices onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and roast until tender, about 30 minutes.
- When the lentils are done, add the red peppers, basil and lemon (and tamari if using) and simmer for another 10 minutes.
- 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!