A few days ago, I arrived home from the grocery store with 5 or 6 bags of groceries, mostly vegetables for our “Soup Every Day Project.” I shop twice every week and I know most of the cashiers by name and they know my name. Some even know our dog’s name, Freddy, as I have given them his business card. Yes. He has a business card because he is a very good boy and cute as a button.
Anyway, Susan saw that I had bought an eggplant and she said “Bruce, what do you plan on cooking with the eggplant?” I answered, “I thought I might make eggplant parm or moussaka.” And she said, “I just found this interesting recipe for eggplant. What not take a look at it.” And I did and I said, “Susan, that sounds delicious.” And it was delicious.
- 1 ½ pounds eggplant (2 small or 1 large, skin on, or peeled, if desired), chopped into 1-inch pieces
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, crushed
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 cup dried lentils (green, black or brown)
- 5 cups chicken or vegetable stock, or water
- ½ cup orzo or other small pasta, such as ditalini, stelline or macaroni
- Zest and juice from 1 lemon, plus 4 lemon wedges for garnish
- ¼ cup shaved ricotta salata or crumbled feta
- Heat the oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the eggplant with 1/4 cup olive oil and crushed coriander seeds until coated; season with salt and pepper. Arrange in an even layer on a large rimmed baking sheet and roast until eggplant is tender and golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes, giving the baking sheet a shake halfway through roasting to toss the eggplant pieces for even cooking.
- In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium. Add the carrot, onion and celery. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened, about 3 minutes.
- Stir in the garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomato paste begins to darken on the bottom of the pan, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the lentils until coated. Pour in stock or water and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower to medium and simmer until lentils are tender, 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the type and age of lentils you use.
- Stir in the orzo and cook until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon zest and juice.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with the roasted eggplant pieces and large shavings of ricotta salata, and serve with lemon wedges for squeezing.