My husband and I got married in 2011. To keep the event simple, we had a small wedding at the registry office and then a party in a marquee at our local pub. My co-workers and I prepped all the food a couple of days before for the pub to heat and serve on the day.
So yes, I did cater my own wedding and this was the main course. Everyone loved it, and a few of the meat eaters didn’t even notice it was vegetarian.
A lot of people avoid cooking with aubergines due to dislike of texture, unfamiliarity or thinking that they need to salt before use. It is true that many recipes used to call for salting the aubergine before using. There are a couple of reasons for this: the first being to remove bitterness.
It’s my understanding that as clever humans, we have bred the bitterness out of modern aubergines and the cultivated aubergines available today are not as bitter as they used to be. The second common reason people suggest salting aubergines is to remove moisture. Some chefs recommended this delivers a better final outcome. I left behind salting aubergines decades ago and have never looked back.
Lentils provide a great replacement for mince in this recipe. I have chosen French lentils to use in this dish as they provide a wonderful texture and add a lovely flavour. Green or brown lentils could also be used.
If you like this hearty Mediterranean aubergine dish, you may also like:
AUBERGINE AND LENTIL MOUSSAKA
For the filling
4 medium or 3 large aubergines, sliced
3 tbsp olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
150g Puy lentils, sometimes called dark speckled or French
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 red pepper, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp tomato puree
400g tin chopped tomatoes
150ml red wine
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp oregano
3 tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
For the topping
250g Greek-style yoghurt
3 free-range eggs
freshly grated nutmeg
salt and freshly ground black pepper
50g freshly grated hard Italian cheese
For a vegan version (topping)
400g silken tofu
100g cashews, soaked in hot water for 1 hour then drained
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic
2 tsp cornflour
freshly ground nutmeg
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4. Slice the aubergines lengthways into ½ cm (¼ inch) slices, and place on baking trays. Brush both sides with 2 tablespoons of the oil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast until golden and floppy, about 15-20 minutes. This can be done in batches, on the barbeque or under the grill.
Put the lentils in a saucepan, cover with water – about 5cm (2.5 inch) above the lentils. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until tender. Drain and rinse.
Meanwhile, in a medium size saucepan, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil, add the onion and pepper and sauté for 5-8 minutes, or until softened.
Add the garlic and tomato puree, stir to coat the vegetables, then continue to sauté for a further 4-5 minutes. Cooking the tomato puree off enhances the flavour and cooks out any bitterness.
Add the chopped tomatoes, red wine, cinnamon and oregano and simmer for 4-5 minutes.
Add the cooked lentils to the mixture and simmer for a further 2-3 minutes, or until warmed through. Add the fresh parsley and season with salt and pepper.
For the topping, in a bowl, beat together the ricotta, Greek-style yoghurt, eggs and grated nutmeg until well combined. If using the vegan topping, combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Arrange a third of the aubergines in the base of a medium size oven proof dish, and top with half the lentil mixture. Repeat, then finish with a final layer of aubergine, and top with the ricotta mixture. Sprinkle over the grated cheese. Bake at 200°C/Gas Mark 6 for about 30-45 minutes until well browned, leaving to set for 10 minutes before serving.
Have you made this dish? I love seeing my delicious recipes come to life, so share a picture with me on Instagram by tagging @naturalcookeryschool and I’ll re-share your post!