Aubergine, Lentil and Spinach Salad, with Pomegranate Seeds
November 20, 2008
Looks lovely, but what do you do with it?
This pomegranate, brought back from Cyprus, has been waiting patiently in the glass bowl in the hall. Waiting for inspiration to strike me. Which today, it did.
I knew I’d seen a picture of an Ottolenghi dish where he’d scattered the tiny pink seeds like jewels over something or rather, no idea what, something typically (and deliciously) spicy and Middle Eastern. So my thought was that I could do the same, why not? Over one of my favourite salads, lentils and spinach dressed with cream.
And then, since I had an aubergine in the fridge, that obviously would need to go in too.
Though I call this a salad, it’s really one of those salad-type things that you could eat hot, warm or cold. By itself, in a medley of salads, or as a side-dish. The bright colours and earthy tastes would warm up any lunch, but particularly a winter one.
Oh, and the pomegranate seeds aren’t vital, if you can’t find them. You could use cherry tomatoes – albeit for a slightly different flavour. ( And if you have the time and inclination, oven-dry these first. It’s so simple. Set the oven to about 90C, cut the tomatoes in half, put them on an oven tray spread with tin foil, sprinkle with salt, and bake for about 2 hours. That’s it. They taste intensely tomato-ish, like sundried tomatoes do. But better, because you did them yourself.)
Aubergine, Lentil and Spinach Salad, with Pomegranate Seeds, for 4
1 large aubergine
100g green lentils
2 red Thai chillies, sliced
1 fat garlic clove, minced
bunch shredded spinach (my bunch was 160g when bought and half that once de-stalked and sifted through)
6 tbs olive oil
2 tbs cream
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
Set the oven to 175C.
To prepare the aubergine, slice off the top and bottom and then cut it in half widthwise. Those halves are then cut in half again lengthwise, and each quarter sliced lengthwise into 6 long pieces. So you end up with 12 sections, each about the size of a potato wedge.
Put the aubergine wedges in an oven dish with the sliced chilli, garlic, a good coating of salt and pepper and 2 tbs of the oil. Stir it all around thoroughly. The aubergines then go into the oven where they take 20 minutes (though my oven is fan-assisted, so they may take longer in a conventional oven. They need to be soft but not mushy).
Put the lentils in a pan of cold water, bring them to the boil and simmer for about 20 minutes. Like the aubergine, they need to be soft but not lose their shape.
Pour the rest of the oil, the cream and the vinegar into a bowl and stir well, or blend – though only for a moment, or the cream may start to whip up.
The cooked aubergines go into a bowl with the spinach and then the dressing is poured over them while they are still hot. Drain and rinse the lentils and stir those in too. Leave for a little while for the flavours to infuse and then scatter over the pomegranate seeds.