Finding an appropriate meal to please both my vegetarian gal pals AND my carnivorous boyfriend is always a challenge. Due to the fact that I now share my home with the man in my life, I now have to factor him and his insatiable appetite into my girly dinner parties. It’s highly annoying and considerably more time consuming but he’s good at fixing up flat-packed furniture and understands how to make proper posh coffee. So he’ll do, I guess.
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Preparing a vegetarian meal for a meat lover is tricky, but definitely not impossible. Plus the “I told you so” satisfaction that comes from them actually enjoying a dinner which doesn’t require the slaughtering of an animal is especially delicious. In such a scenario; the humble aubergine is your very best friend. Whether charred, grilled or roasted, the hefty vegetable provides a meaty, fleshy texture which – when coupled with the right spices – can be just as tasty and satisfying as a slab of steak. This recipe was developed by me (with a little help from Marcus Wareing) and incorporates a helping of slowly stewed lentils for a punch of protein. I’ve also added a cheeky tin of black-eyed-beans, but feel free to substitute for any pulses that take your fancy. I also served with a big loaf of chunky, fresh bread just ‘coz let’s be honest, a meal without bread isn’t really a thing.
2 bulbs garlic
Splash of Olive Oil
1 tin Black-Eyed-Peas (or any alternative beans)
Cumin (1 tsp)
Paprika (1/2 tsp)
Chopped Tomatoes (1 tin)
Grating of Parmesan (optional)
Rinse lentils under cold water, then cover with water and bring to the boil in a saucepan, before turning down to a simmer.
Meanwhile, slice aubergines in half length-ways, place in a large saucepan and cover with boiling water
Boil for 25-30 minutes or until the aubergine flesh is tender
Remove from heat and carefully scoop out the soft, inside flesh from each half – place the flesh in a bowl.
Reserve the aubergine skins and arrange them in a large oven-proof dish.
Season flesh with salt & pepper and mash until pureed.
Chop onions and garlic and brown lightly in a pan with a little oil.
Once lentils are tender to touch and water has evaporated (usually after about 30 minutes of cooking), add cumin, aubergine puree, onions, garlic and beans.
Stir well and keep pan on a medium heat.
In a separate, smaller pan, heat chopped tomatoes and season with salt, pepper and paprika. Add 50ml of boiling water and stir well.
Carefully spoon the lentil mixture into each empty aubergine skin, ensuring each skin is full of mixture but not over-filled.
When all skins are filled, spoon or lightly pour the tomato sauce in and around the filled aubergines, filling the gaps in the dish with tomato sauce.