I’ve said it before, but I’m a big fan of meal planning. Every week, usually on Friday morning during breakfast, TH and I sit down and flip through magazines and cookbooks, looking for inspiration and ideas for our meals for the week. The plan is generally a mix of go-to favorites, a few easy to prepare meals, and one or two recipes that are new and perhaps a bit challenging. Planning out our meals makes the grocery shopping trip so much easier, because we know exactly what we need to purchase, and we try to not buy much more than that.
After we pick out the week’s meals, we write the meal plan on a big yellow post it-note, which we place on the fridge to reference throughout the week. But for all the planning, sometimes things just don’t go as we imagined. Sometimes there is an unexpected dinner invitation, sometimes we aren’t in the mood for the food we had planned, and some days we are just too lazy to cook at all. Inevitably, this means groceries end up lying around in the fridge and pantry needing a new purpose.
For the past two weeks, this forgotten item was eggplant. I love eggplant (see here and here), but for some reason we recently ended up with two lonely eggplants. I had planned to make a roasted vegetable lasagna, using long slices of zucchini and eggplant as the “noodles,” but never got around to it. I put the eggplant back on our list in a ragù, but also didn’t make the dish. Finally this week was the eggplant week. We prepared homemade chicken wings one night, and I wanted a nice fresh-flavored side dish to go along with the spicy meat. My first thought was tabbouleh, but since we are cutting out most carbs this month, I subbed in French lentils for the bulgur wheat. The addition of charred eggplant gave the salad some nice earthy flavor, and the lime-tahini dressing—packed with chopped mint, basil, and parsley—was exactly the bright and tangy bite I was looking for. This salad is great on its own, and can also be served over salad greens for an even more filling dish.
Roasted Eggplant Lentil Tabbouleh with Lime-Tahini Dressing
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
2 small eggplants, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup French lentils
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon lime juice
½-1 teaspoon water
½ tablespoon chopped mint
½ tablespoon chopped parsley
½ tablespoon chopped basil
1 medium sized tomato, diced
½ cucumber, diced
Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F). Place the diced eggplant on a sheet tray and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in oven and roast, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is nicely charred. When charred, remove from oven and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, place the lentils in a pot, add 2 cups water, and bring to a boil. Cover pot, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 30 to 35 minutes, until the lentils are cooked through but still retain their shape. Drain any excess water from the lentils and set them aside to cool.
In a medium bowl, combine the tahini, lime juice, remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, and ½ teaspoon water. Whisk together until a smooth consistencty forms, adding more water if necessary. Stir in chopped herbs and season well with salt and pepper. Add the eggplant, lentils, tomato, and cucumber, and stir to combine. Rest for at least 15 minutes to let the flavors marry together, then serve.