In the new paperback edition of The Meat-Free Monday Cookbook, editor Annie Rigg has assembled recipes from renowned chefs to create a meatless three-meal plan for every Monday of the year.
We're sharing an Eggplant Casserole that's just as perfect for a Monday-night dinner as it is for a weekend dinner party.
Maggie Beer's Eggplant Casserole
Serves 3 to 4
This recipe uses verjuice, which is made from unripe grapes and was an important cooking ingredient in medieval times. It has recently been repopularized 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 flavor.
- 1 cup organic lentils
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 medium eggplants, sliced
- 1 large onion, roughly diced
- 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tomatoes, roughly chopped
- ¾ cup verjuice
- ½ cup pomegranate molasses
- 2 tablespoons rinsed and finely chopped preserved lemons
- 3 tablespoons roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 3 tablespoons roughly chopped mint leaves
- 14 ounces farmer's cheese or mascarpone
1. Preheat the oven to 300°F.
2. Place the lentils and 6 cups of water in a saucepan, bring to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
3. Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy-bottomed casserole dish, and cook the eggplant 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 to 4 minutes or until the onions are a golden brown color.
4. Add the tomatoes with 1 tablespoon olive oil and warm through. 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.
5. Add half of the eggplant slices, sprinkle with half of the lentils, then add the rest of the eggplant and top with the rest of the lentils. Pour over the remaining olive oil and the pomegranate molasses.
6. Cover, and cook in the oven for 1 hour, then stir through the preserved lemons. Return to the oven for another 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the eggplant is cooked through. Check for seasoning and serve warm with the parsley and mint stirred through. Serve on individual plates, top with farmer's cheese or mascarpone, and drizzle with a last dash of olive oil.