Entrees · Vegetarian

Italian Lentils and Eggplant

I never used to eat eggplant, but after my husband planted some in our garden, I needed ways to use it.  Eggplant is a beautiful vegetable, with its deep purple color and shiny exterior.  I found that the flavor is not very strong, which makes it very versatile to use in recipes.  Nutrition-wise, eggplant is a good source of fiber and B-vitamins.

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I often see eggplant used in Italian recipes, such as eggplant parmesan, so decided to go with this type of flavor profile.  This dish is very flavorful and has beautiful colors.  The vegetables used are not very strong in flavor, so it is an easy way to get a serving of vegetables.

The lentils in this recipe provide most of the protein.  As with almost all vegetarian sources of protein, lentils are not considered “complete” proteins, meaning they are lacking in some of the essential amino acids.  Grains contain the amino acids that lentils lack, so this is a great pairing.  I poured this recipe over a combination of Italian Arborio rice and barley and the textures were great.

Here is the recipe:

Italian Lentils and Eggplant

Makes 4 servings.  Requires about 60 minutes from start to finish.

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp   olive oil

1 large   eggplant (12-14 oz)

1  med   onion, chopped fine

1 cup     grape tomatoes, halved

2 cups   fresh or frozen spinach, chopped

¼ cup    dry lentils

2 tsp      garlic powder

1 tsp      black pepper

2 Tbsp   Italian seasoning (basil, oregano)

Directions:

  1. Cut eggplant in to ½-inch cubes and toss with ½ tsp salt in a medium bowl. Let sit for 30 minutes. This allows some of the moisture to seep out of the eggplant. Then press dry with a dish towel.
  2. Cook lentils (add lentils and ½ cup water to a pot and simmer for about 30-40 minutes)
  3. Heat olive oil in a large pan and add onion and garlic powder, cooking until onion is translucent
  4. Add eggplant and toss in the olive oil/onion for about 3-4 minutes, then add tomatoes and seasonings

Italian Lentils and Eggplant

5. Sprinkle spinach over the top and cover.

Italian Lentils and Eggplant

6. Turn heat to low and allow mixture to simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes. Juices will begin to seep out of tomatoes.

7. Serve over rice or another grain, such as barley or bulgur wheat.

Nutrition Facts: 1/4 of recipe: 125 calories, 4 grams of fat (1 gram of saturated fat), 310 mg sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrate (1 carb choice), 7 grams of fiber, 5 grams of sugar, 4 grams of protein

Italian Lentils and Eggplant

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