Spicy Stuffed Eggplants
4 large eggplant, halved lengthwise
1 cup dried green lentils
1 bay leaf, optional
2 medium onions, finely chopped
olive oil, as needed
salt and pepper, to taste
5 ounces carrots, finely chopped
2 to 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 plum tomatoes, finely chopped
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 small dried chili, crushed
7-8 green peppercorns in vinegar or brine, crushed
1 bunch parsley, chopped
vegan cheese and/or toasted breadcrumbs, to top, optional
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, and lightly grease baking sheet. Place eggplant cut-side up on prepared baking tray. Roast them until they are mostly cooked and lightly browned on top, about 1/2 hour.
2. Put the lentils in a pan with plenty of water with the bay leaf (do not add salt). Bring to the boil, and simmer until the lentils are quite soft (20-30 minutes). When they are done, remove from heat and pour off excess water.
3. Meanwhile, in a large pan, saute the onions in olive oil with a little salt for about 5 minutes, then add the carrots. Continue to saute until the onions are soft and sweet. Add the garlic and saute for a couple more minutes, don't let the garlic burn.
4. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, spices, crushed green peppercorns and salt to the mix, heat through and adjust spices to taste. When the eggplant is done, carefully scoop out the flesh, leaving the shell at least 1/2" thick. Finely chop the flesh, and add it, the lentils and the parsley to the tomato sauce.
5. Mix it all together, taste for final seasoning, and fill the eggplant shells. (I usually have some stuffing left over, and have it with toast for lunch the next day). Top the stuffed eggplant with cheese and/or breadcrumbs, if desired, and bake for 10 minutes, or slightly longer, as needed.
I often serve this with roasted sweet potatoes and an avocado and mango salad.
Source of recipe: This recipe developed from an attempt to recreate a very nice takeaway lunch I got from a Turkish restaurant in The Hague, The Netherlands. It doesn't much resemble the original anymore, but I rather like the result