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  • Recipe Room  »  Aubergine casserole with pomegranate

    4

    Ingredients

    • 200g organic lentils
    • 160ml extra virgin olive oil
    • 3 medium aubergines, sliced
    • 1 large onion, roughly diced
    • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • 3 tomatoes, roughly chopped
    • 125ml verjuice
    • 70g pomegranate molasses
    • 2 tablespoons rinsed and finely chopped preserved lemons
    • 3 tablespoons roughly chopped flatleaf parsley leaves
    • 3 tablespoons roughly chopped mint leaves
    • 400g quark
    • salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Aubergine casserole with pomegranate

    Verjuice, which is made from unripe grapes, was an important cooking ingredient in medieval times. It has recently been repopularised by Australian chef Maggie Beer.

    Being acidic, it can be used in much the same way as vinegar or lemon juice, for instance in salad dressings or marinades, but it has a mellower, fruitier flavour.

    Method

    Place the lentils and 1.5 litres water in a saucepan, bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

    Meanwhile, place a heavy-bottomed casserole dish over a high heat, add 3 tablespoons olive oil and fry the aubergine in batches until golden. Remove and set aside.

    Add the onion and cook for 10 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, and a good pinch of salt and cook, stirring every now and then to prevent the onion from burning, for 3–4 minutes or until the onions are a golden brown colour.

    Then add the tomatoes with 1 tablespoon olive oil and bring the mixture back to temperature. Pour in the verjuice and cook, stirring, for 1 minute until the liquid has reduced by two-thirds, then remove from the heat and set aside.

    Add half of the aubergine slices, then sprinkle over half of the lentils, then add the rest of the aubergine and top with the rest of the lentils. Pour over the remaining olive oil and the pomegranate molasses.

    Cover and place in the oven to cook for 1 hour, then stir through the preserved lemons. Return to the oven for another 45 minutes–1 hour or until the aubergine is cooked through.

    Check for seasoning and serve warm with the parsley and mint stirred through. Serve on individual plates, top with quark and drizzle with a last dash of olive oil.

    Meat Free Monday Cookbook by Paul, Stella and Mary McCartney, edited by Annie Rigg, published by Kyle Books, RRP $35 click to buy.

    Tips and Tricks

    • Choose bright, firm flesh tomatoes – they should give a little when squeezed but not feel soft. Try to buy tomatoes that have been stored at room temperature (rather than refridgerated) as these will have a stronger flavour and will be slower to break down than those stored in the fridge.

    • An easy way to save eggplants from going to waste is to roast them and then freeze the scooped out flesh in an airtight container. Freeze up to 12 months.

    • Substituting fresh for dried herbs can be a great option if you don’t have any fresh to hand or you know you can’t use it all. A general rule is to use the 3:1 ratio—use 3 times more fresh than dried. eg. 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint equals 1 teaspoon dried.

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