Monday, November 9, 2009

Eggplant Rishta Bi (Eggplant with Lentils, Caramelized Onions and Pasta)


We made a brief stop in Cincinnati before relocating from Los Angeles to Houston.  Known for it's chili and German food, Cincinnati was far from the ideal city for a vegetarian.  In fact, it was so hard to eat out that we actually started cooking at home, something we never did in L.A.  After my many cooking disasters, David took over in the kitchen and the rest is history.   The one restaurant that we loved in Cincy was a little hole-in-the-wall Lebanese restaurant called Floyd's.  Back then the kitchen was always occupied by a grandmotherly type who fed us until we were ready to burst.  She made an amazing dish with lentils, rice and caramelized onions, mujaddara, that we remember to this day.

We have made mujaddara at home many times since, and a similar dish called rishta bi which substitutes pasta for rice.  We decided to put a garden spin on these classics by adding eggplant fresh from the garden.   We cooked with Thai Long Green eggplant, but any type will work.  Leave yourself plenty of time to caramelize the onions.  Thomas Keller has a technique that takes an entire day, but if you live in the real world and can't spend the day in the kitchen, our approach yields tasty onions in around an hour.  We use butter and olive oil for the onions, but vegans should use only olive oil and the onions will still taste great.  Just a few ingredients, amazing flavors.  Although it deviates from tradition, we think our eggplant rishta bi would make our old friend at Floyd's proud.

Eggplant Rishta Bi

Ingredients

1       lb            eggplant, cut into thin slices
1                      large onion, sliced
1/2    cup         brown lentils
8       oz           fresh tagliatelle pasta
                       (or 4 oz dry pasta)
                       olive oil
                       butter
                       sea salt and black pepper
                       fresh Italian parsley, chopped
                       
Procedure
  1. Heat olive oil over medium and fry eggplant slices until golden brown.  Flip and repeat.  Remove eggplant from pan to paper towels to dry.
  2. Melt butter (about 1 Tbs) and add a dash of olive oil over low heat and cook onions until brown and caramelized.  This takes about an hour.  Keep the pan covered to soften the onions.  We let ours turn almost black before removing from heat.
  3. Boil water and add lentils, cooking until just tender.  Drain in a collander.
  4. Cook pasta in salted water and drain in a collander.
  5. Toss pasta, lentils, 5 Tbs olive oil, eggplant and onions together.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Top with chopped parsley.

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16 comments:

  1. This sounds great- so flavourful and healthy!

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  2. Absolutely delicious. Brilliant flavors.

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  3. I wish I'd seen this when I was getting inundated with eggplant from my CSA!!

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  4. How perfect. This sounds simple AND delicious... which is one of my favourite combinations when it comes to recipes. :)

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  5. Interesting...this is much different than what I would usually make, but I imagine it could be quite good!

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  6. Looks really good - incorporates all the things i love - eggplants, check. lentils, check. pasta, check!

    And I totally get what you're saying about Cincinnati. I had an interview there once, and the only vegetarian lunch spot they could think of to take me was this bagel place! Needless to say, I turned down the job offer because I could never live in a town that didn't offer veggie-friendly fare!

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  7. I've been looking for new eggplant recipes. Thanks. This looks great!

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  8. A great recipe with eggplant, very unique!

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  9. Will you ever make anything that I don't want to eat?

    Seriously. Love your photos. Always such good quality and well thought out.

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  10. You don't have to be a vegetarian to appreciate this one. Great use for eggplants! Combining with lentils is a good idea.

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  11. I so love a simple but ooh so tasty dish as this one!!

    MMMMMMMMMMMM,...

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