For me there’s no more quintessentially Autumn dish than Maggie Beer’s Moroccan eggplant with lentils, pomegranate, and ricotta, a deliciously hearty and warming bowlful that makes the most of seasonal ingredients, and one I look forward to making whenever the weather cooling down. Faced with a desire to make it but also lacking several of the key ingredients (ie. everything except the eggplants), I knocked something together by subbing the lentils for freekeh (an amazing middle-eastern grain), and using feta instead of ricotta. Not a bad adaptation I must say, and wonderfully nourishing and flavour-packed to boot, especially when paired with some smoked trout and a glass of Otago pinot noir. Here’s the recipe:
Slice 2 medium eggplants into thin strips and grill in an oiled pan or on a BBQ until lightly charred on both sides
Toast 1 cup of freekeh in a pan for a few minutes until brown and smelling wonderfully nutty, then cover with 2 cups of water, bring to the boil, and simmer until the water is absorbed and the grains are nice and tender.
In a large saucepan, cook a diced onion in olive oil until golden brown, then add 2 cloves of crushed garlic, a diced red chilli, and a good pinch of salt and cook for another few minutes. Deglaze the pan with some lemon juice, then take off the heat and stir through the grilled eggplant and cooked freekeh.
Pile the lot into a bowl or onto a platter, and top with chopped mint, feta, and pomegranate seeds.