Roasted Cauliflower & French lentils with Smokey Eggplant & Almonds



Cauliflower, lentils, smoked eggplant, herbs, greens & nuts, this dish has everything and more flavour and textures than it is reasonable to expect from a humble 'salad'. There are a few steps, but they are all simple and absolutely worth it. This recipe will serve four generously.


Let's start with the lentils:


Braised Lentils

1 Tbsp Olive oil

1 Brown onion, medium, diced

1 Garlic clove, large, minced

1 Carrot, small, grated

3 Bay leaves dried

2 cups dry Puy (French) lentils

3 cups Vegetable Stock


Method

Place the lentils in a bowl and cover with water, allow to soak for about 3 hours, or overnight.


In a large saute pan over a medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onions, garlic, carrots & bay leaves. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until soft and translucent. Add the soaked and drained lentils stir thoroughly and then add the vegetable stock. Bring to the boil then turn down the heat, cover with a lid and allow to simmer for about 25 minutes. Test the lentils, they should be soft all the way through and still intact. Tip them into a flat tray and allow them to cool.


While the lentils are cooking, start the Eggplant.



I smoked the eggplant on the Weber Q. Just put it on a high heat and place the eggplant on, it will take about 25 minutes. If you don't have a BBQ you can put the eggplant directly over a gas flame and keep turning it until the skin blackens then finish it in the oven. The other option is to bake the eggplant in a really hot oven. It won't get smokey the way it will on the BBQ or over a gas flame, but it will still be amazing.


Smoked Eggplant Dressing

1 medium sized Eggplant

1 clove Garlic minced

1.5 tsp Pink salt

2 Tbsp Tahini paste

1 half Lemon juiced


After smoking or baking the eggplant, place the eggplant, minced garlic, salt, tahini & lemon juice in a high speed blender until smooth & creamy.


The rest is easy:


1 whole cauliflower broken into florets

1 handful of mint

1 handful of basil

1 handful of coriander

1 handful of baby spinach

1 handful of rocket leaves


Preheat the oven to 250*c. Place the cauliflower on a lined baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Roast until beautiful dark golden caramelisation occurs. I like my florets to be uneven sizes and shapes and still look like Cauliflower.


Chop all the herbs roughly and toss through the spinach & rocket. Allow the cauliflower to cool down then toss the lentils through, followed by the leaves and herbs. Sprinkle generously with toasted almonds, a huge dollop of the smoked eggplant and enjoy.


Optional

At the last minute, I wanted something pickled to make the dish pop. I found some spring onions and bean sprouts in the fridge so I pickled them. It takes no time at all and they were yummy!


3 Spring Onions sliced

1/2 cup Bean shoots (I happened to have the crunchy combo in the fridge)

3 Tbsp Red wine vinegar

2 Tbsp Maple syrup

1/2 Tsp Pink salt


Pack all the ingredients into a little jar and shake like crazy. Sprinkle a few on top of the salad for some zing, you'll love it!



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