Recipe

Puy lentil & smoked aubergine purée

by Jenny Chandler

A twist on the classic meze dish, baba ghanoush

Aubergine purée has often been hailed as ‘poor man’s caviar’ around the Mediterranean and it makes a fabulous canapé topping or a great filling for flatbreads.

The slippery texture that I often associate with the classic aubergine mezze, baba ghanoush, is replaced with a more substantial, creamy puree with the addition of the lentils.

Charring the skin of the aubergine is vital or you will lose out on the smoky flavour that absolutely makes the dish.

Ingredients

2 aubergines
5 garlic cloves, skin on
150g puy lentils, rinsed
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice of ½-1 lemon
6 sundried tomatoes, finely chopped
2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped

Method

Preheat the oven to 200C. Pierce the aubergine in a couple of places to avoid any minor explosions and place directly over a gas flame, or under the grill, to blacken the skin. After 2 mins, you can turn the aubergine over using some tongs. Most of the skin should be charred and crispy by the time you have finished.

Now put the aubergine on a small tray along with the garlic cloves and roast in the oven for about 20 mins, or until the flesh has become soft and completely collapsed. You may need to whip the garlic out after about 15 mins—they should feel squashy and creamy when you squeeze them but take care not to burn them or they will taste terribly bitter.

Meanwhile, cover the lentils with 5cm cold water in a saucepan. Bring them up to the boil and then simmer for about 20-30 mins, until really tender—this is not a moment for the al dente touch. Drain the lentils once cooked and add the extra virgin olive oil.

Remove the skin from the aubergine, squeeze the creamy paste from the garlic cloves and place the aubergine flesh with the lentils and half the lemon juice in the food processor. Whizz it up to a rough paste.

Add the tomato and the parsley and season with salt and pepper. Only pulse the mixture momentarily now, as it’s good to have a little bit of texture from the tomato. Taste and adjust the seasoning—salt, pepper, more lemon juice or an extra dash of olive oil—until you are happy. Just don’t eat it all in the process.

Recipe: Jenny Chandler