Smashed Eggplant with Lentils and Maple-Roasted Radish

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This recipe is a take on “eggplant caviar” found in Provence, France.

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Description

While in Provence, I heard about a regally monikered local dish called “eggplant caviar” that immediately sparked my interest. While it is actually just a simple eggplant dip, this dish encapsulates the respect shown to fresh produce in regional French cuisine. My take on eggplant caviar is lighter than baba ghanoush and is a lovely accompaniment to these rather spectacular roasted radishes. Sneak some of the smashed eggplant aside to use as a dip!

Smashed Eggplant with Lentils and Maple-Roasted Radish
Recipe TypeSide Dish/Appetizer
Author: Hetty McKinnon
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
    • 2 cups (400 g) lentils (any variety), rinsed
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1 small garlic clove, peeled (optional)
    • 30 radishes (about 2 lb; 1 kg), trimmed and quartered
    • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
    • Juice of 1 lemon
    • 2 cups baby spinach leaves
    • ½ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
    • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • Sea salt and black pepper
    • SMASHED EGGPLANT
    • 3 eggplants (about 2½ lb; 1.2 kg)
    • ½ cup (125 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 small garlic clove, grated
    • Juice of 1 lemon, plus extra if necessary
    • 1 shallot (see note page 32), finely diced
    • ½ teaspoon paprika
    • ½ teaspoon chili powder
    • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
    • 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint leaves
    • Sea salt and black pepper
Instructions
  1. To make the smashed eggplant, place the eggplants directly on the flame of a gas stovetop, over a very hot barbecue, or in an oven preheated to 425˚F. Cook, turning often, until they become very soft and the skin is charred all over (this process takes a while, especially when using an open flame, so be patient!).
  2. When cool enough to handle, carefully peel the charred skin off the eggplants. Place the eggplant flesh in a large bowl and break it up with a fork. Add the olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, shallot, paprika, chili powder, and a large pinch of salt, and mash everything together, then stir in the parsley and mint. Taste and add more lemon or salt as necessary (the eggplant needs liberal seasoning, so don’t be afraid of adding more salt if needed).
  3. Alternatively, place everything in the bowl of a food processor and whiz it together.
  4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the lentils, bay leaf, whole garlic clove, if using, and a big pinch of salt, and cook for 20–25 minutes until just tender. Drain.
  5. Place the radishes on a large baking tray and drizzle over the maple syrup and half the lemon juice. Toss to combine and roast in the oven for 20–25 minutes until the radishes are tender.
  6. Combine the radishes with the lentils, spinach leaves, parsley, olive oil, and the remaining lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. To serve, spread the smashed eggplant over a large serving dish and top with the radishes and lentils.

From Neighborhood by Hetty McKinnon 2016. Photography 2016 by Luisa Brimble. Reprinted in arrangement with Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boulder, CO.

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