This is a thoroughly satisfying, hearty and savoury salad made with minimal fuss by roasting eggplant slices rubbed with sumac, making a garlic balsamic dressing in a mason jar and tossing it all together in a bowl with some lentils, dried cherries and herbs. Need some quick vegan and gluten free lunch inspiration on a busy week day? Make this salad!
A few months ago I bought the Messermeister Pro-Touch garlic press. Honestly, I don’t know how I survived all these years without one. It is one of the most useful kitchen gadgets I own. Now mincing garlic is quick and kinder to my hands. No more tedious garlic mincing with a knife! And it is also self-cleaning. So with some help from classic ingredients like garlic and some spice, this extremely easy salad is big on flavour. All those delightful, warm Mediterranean flavours will most definitely heighten your senses before you take your first bite. I love eating this cold. I have always loved cold roasted eggplant for some inexplainable reason. But others prefer it a bit warmed up which then takes it to yet another level. It tastes amazing when slightly warmed up in the microwave on the second day after the spices have had a chance to develop. Dried cherries are hard to come by. I sun-dry pitted cherries in season and freeze them but they don’t last very long. When I can’t find cherries, I sub them with dried cranberries, chopped dried figs or dried goji berries. I have been seriously considering buying a dehydrator. Do any of you have one? Would you be able to recommend a good brand here in Australia? If you make this salad (it is so simple!) please share a picture with me by tagging me #cookrepublic on social media.
On another note, I have been thrilled to be nominated as Australia’s favourite blogging alumni on Kidspot. If you vote for me and I win, I stand to score a $7.5k business grant and Kidspot will donate another $2.5k to my favourite charity Save The Children who are the world’s largest non-profit organisation striving to protect, nourish, educate and care for the rights of under privileged children. Furthermore, I have decided to donate $1k from my own business grant to this charity if I win. I have been supporting them monthly for over 10 years and this $3.5k donation will be huge for their ongoing work with children. Please vote for me (as many times as you like). Thanks for all your support! x
A beautiful savoury salad of lentils topped with meaty slices of perfectly roasted eggplant, sweetened only by plump dried cherries and a touch of balsamic. This salad tastes great warm or cold and travels well.
- 2 Lebanese eggplants, quartered lengthways
- 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
- 1 1/2 teaspoon sumac
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 400g can of lentils, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup (80g) dried cherries
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 1 cup (60g) packed flat leaf parsley, to serve
- handful fresh oregano leaves or greens, to serve
for the dressing
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons caramelised balsamic vinegar
- juice of 1 small lemon
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds + extra to serve
- freshly ground black pepper
- Place eggplant, salt, sumac and olive oil in a medium bowl. Toss gently to combine. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Roast in a pre-heated oven at 200C for 20 minutes.
- To make the dressing, place all ingredients for dressing in a lidded mason jar and shake well to combine. Dressing can me made up to a day ahead and stored in the fridge.
- Place lentils, cherries and onion in a large bowl. Add the dressing and mix well. Top with roasted eggplant slices and garnish with parsley, greens and extra sesame seeds.
* a note on balsamic vinegar I always use caramelised balsamic vinegar. The rich almost syrupy vinegar is a tad sweeter than the usual vinegar with less acidity. This lets me get away without using any other kind of sweetener (sugar/honey) at all. If you don’t find caramelised balsamic vinegar, go for the aged variety. Well aged, matured balsamic vinegar is always thick and almost syrupy and has a very rich and indulgent taste as opposed to its cheaper, regular counterparts.
If you have just regular balsamic vinegar on hand, swap the caramelised balsamic in this recipe for the following. 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar + 1 tablespoon honey + 1 teaspoon raw sugar.