Lentils, aubergine, roasted tomatoes and ricotta

Recently Yotam Ottelenghi has joined the food writing fray at the Guardian, for which I am rather glad as his recipes are rather nice.

Like this one. Actually should I say a bit like this one.


I seem to remember once (with an air of superiority I cringe to recall) telling (or declaring more-like) someone in a vocal stamping of my feet that I would never read the newspaper on-line, I liked the paper and print too much, I didn’t want yet another part of my life to become dependant on the mac monster I was already far to involved with, the articles somehow didn’t make as much sense read on a screen……blah…me me…. I think…

I had to eat my words…….

I still prefer paper and print but since moving to Rome my persisting and exasperating inability to really understand Italian newspapers and the exorbitant price of my trusted daily has meant that I only get to hold the real thing once a week but the rest of the time, needs must, I have become quite devoted and rather fond of reading the newspaper on – line.

As much as I like reading about food and nosing amongst the recipes, it’s not actually the first place I head too, that will be him or him. But I get there eventually and always find good company; Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, Mathew Fort, Allegra MacEvedy, Nigel Slater, Yotam Ottolenghi  and various talented others who all – more often than not– inspire, only occasionally irritate and propel me into the kitchen.

Like today

Yes lentils again, I know it’s not pork, or a cake, or cookies but lentils, just bear with me.


What the photo is not really illustrating is the pleasing little combination that is;

a pile of braised lentils mixed with roasted and slightly sticky caramelized celery, carrot and tomatoes, plenty of chopped parsley and olive oil….topped with a dollop of creamed smoky (that will be the roasting) aubergine………and a slice of ricotta and more good olive oil and black pepper.

All the components make for a very tasty whole and was a nice change from pasta as the drummer is off drumming.

I know I have said this before but one of the best things I have learned in the last couple of years is boiling lentils with a bay leaf, carrot, celery and onion. The lentils absorb the flavours beautifully and so are, well, beautifully flavoured.

lentils for ALT

I think there is space for some pancetta in this assembly, next time. By the way, talking of pancetta, I have not- despite appearances- gone vegetarian, only that it’s all been rather quiet on the meat front around here. But I am anticipating that will change in few weeks when we go to meet the rest of my rowdy, carnivorous family including an offal crazed brother in Umbria. Things may well get decidedly fishy when we go to meet Vincenzo’s family in Sicily later in the summer.

last thing….apparently one of my favorite tipples is an old mans drink.

No, this is the last thing, I promise if you haven’t already given up on this chaotic post. I blame today’s chaos on this little rant about overused words in food writing. Even though I don’t agree with all of it and frankly, wish I hadn’t even seen it, it did make me ponder the words I choose a bit more than usual.

Ah, finished, here is the recipe, but first another photo in case you have forgotten what on earth I was talking about, I know I have.


Lentils, aubergine, roasted tomatoes and ricotta.

  • 2 medium aubergines
  • salt and black pepper
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 200g small dark lentils (puy or castelluccio) washed and drained
  • 3 small carrots, peeled.
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • a bay leaf
  • a small while onion
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • a tsp brown sugar
  • handful of chopped parsley
  • Ricotta

Put the aubergines on an oven tray lined with foil and place under a very hot grill for 45 minutes, turning them a few times, until the skin cracks and the flesh is cooked through  – don’t worry if they burst.

Remove from the oven and when cool enough to handle scoop the flesh into a colander, avoiding the black skin. Leave to drain for at least 15 minutes, then season and mix in half a tablespoon of vinegar.

Meanwhile, put the lentils in a medium saucepan with one carrot and half a celery stick chopped into rough chunks. Add the bay and onion, cover with plenty of water, bring to a boil and simmer for up to 25 minutes or when the lentils are tender – skim the froth off the surface from time to time. Drain , discard the carrot, celery, bay, thyme and onion, and transfer to a bowl. Add the rest of the vinegar and two tablespoons of oil and salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir and set aside.

Set the oven to 150C/300F/gas mark 2. Cut the remaining carrot and celery into 1cm dice and mix with the tomatoes, a tablespoon of oil, some salt and the sugar. Spread in an ovenproof dish and roast for 20 minutes.

Add the cooked vegetables to the lentils, then the chopped parsley, stir. Adjust the seasoning to taste.

Spoon on to serving plates. Pile some aubergine in the middle, top with a slice of ricotta and finish with a trickle of oil.



Filed under Beans and pulses, cheese, recipes, Uncategorized, vegetables

9 responses to “Lentils, aubergine, roasted tomatoes and ricotta

  1. I live by the guardian website too – especially at work 😉

    I’ve earmarked this Beetroot and Goats cheese tart recipe from Hugh for this week.


  2. elp

    The drink is known in its native Italy as a Bicyclette — owing, Mr. Henderson said, to the old men who drink it and then “go weebling home upon their bicycles.”

    mmm, it reminds me of someone….

    • rachel

      mmmmm yes I have been known to
      weeble on my bike on the way home
      from a certain bar after a bicyclette or 3

  3. Is there really such a thing as too many lentil recipes? I think not. Especially when the origen is from Ottelenghi! I’m dying to go there. Alas, I must just live vicariously through my friends, and maybe make this:)

  4. I don’t know that I would ever consider making this if someone else had posted about it. You make it sound like a lovely dinner.

    I was just speaking with someone yesterday about overuse of certain adjectives in food writing and how difficult it can be. We each have to try to be a walking thesaurus. A heavy undertaking.

    Though I admit I was glad to see I don’t use the majority of the “offensive” words on the list.

  5. Oh Rachel I love your site, it is great. I also love lentils and can appreciate how good this must have tasted. I just went to Rome actually and if I have seen your site before I would have asked for suggestions of places to eat, as I had a hard time finding some great quirky places.

    I actually always look at the paper on the net too now (shame shame I know)

  6. god that freaking ricotta is so rich-looking yet so light. i want it… really, really want it.

  7. Speechless, lest I overuse something. Now totally paranoid.

    Lentils, ricotta, Campari, wine – all safe.

    Any verdict on the tesa?

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