Tomato and eggplant stacks, with grilled polenta on a bed of lentils.

I decided to make a hearty meal on Friday to celebrate the weekend. This recipe has a lot of components,  but don’t be scared. When the weather begins to get cooler, replace the summer vegetables with an assortment of mushrooms (fall) or root vegetables (winter).

Serving size: 4

Ingredients:

Grilled polenta:

  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 ½  cups water
  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube
  • ½ cup polenta/cornmeal

Grilled/roast veggies:

  • Half an eggplant, sliced into discs
  • 2 large tomatoes, sliced in half (horizontally)
  • Additional olive oil for drizzling/frying
  • 1 cup French green  lentils (or use Puy lentils)

To serve:

  • Red pepper sauce
  • Balsamic reduction
  • Arugula
  • Basil

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 210C / 410F.

2. In a small pan, sauté onions in olive oil until almost caramelised.

3. Dissolve bouillon in a pot of boiling water.

4. Turn down heat, and slowly add in cornmeal, and whisk constantly to break up any lumps.

5. Add sautéed onions and keep on a low/medium heat for 15 minutes, stir occasionally.

6. Pour into a spring form pan (I used a cake tin) and allow to set in the fridge for 1 hour, or until firm.

7. Meanwhile, arrange eggplant in a single layer on a plate.

8. Sprinkle salt on both sides (see note).  Let sit for 30 minutes.

9. Drizzle sliced tomatoes with olive oil, and place face up on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast until they begin to caramelise, about 30- 60 minutes, turn down the heat, and keep warm until ready for plating.

10. Cook green lentils. Bring 3 cups water to a boil, add lentils and simmer for 12-15 minutes until tender. Drain and season with salt and pepper. (this step can be done in advance, and the lentils simply re-heated when ready to plate)

11. Rinse eggplant with cold water and pat the slices dry. Fry each side with tiny splash of olive oil until golden. Place in oven until ready to plate.

12. Grill polenta. Use a circular object such as a glass/cookie cutter and cut out circles (makes approx. 4). Fry polenta in 1 tablespoon of olive oil to form a golden brown crust – about 5-6 minutes on each side

To assemble:

  • Spoon some lentils into the centre of each plate
  • Place a circle of grilled polenta on top
  • Stack with grilled eggplant and roasted tomatoes
  • Top with arugula and a few basil leaves
  • Serve with a red pepper sauce and drizzle with balsamic vinegar reduction

Notes:

–          Salting eggplants draws out the bitter juices and moisture. This creates tender, less oily slices when fried.

–          This step can be skipped if using smaller eggplants (as they have fewer seeds, fewer seeds = less bitter), although you can simply skip the step altogether 😉

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