I’ve discovered a new flavoring, pomegranate molasses. It wasn’t easy to find, even in specialty stores, but I did finally get some in a Middle Eastern grocery not too far from me. Glad that I did – it adds a distinctly “Mediterranean” flavor to whatever it’s added to. This recipe, from Simply Recipes, was just delicious, and I adapted it to cut back on some of the oil. I only used less than 1/4 cup olive oil, and I only used 1/2 of a chile, but you can certainly add more heat, according to your liking. This was hearty, with complex flavors and so satisfyingly healthy. Enjoy!
Eggplant lentil stew with pomegranate molasses
One 1 1/2 pound eggplant
1/2 cup lentils
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1/2 green chile, stemmed, seeded, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
Partially peel the eggplant so it has lengthwise stripes, then cut it lengthwise into 4 slices. Score each slice on 1 side in a crosshatch pattern. Cut each slice crosswise into 3 pieces and set on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt. Let it stand for 1 hour.
In a small saucepan, cover the lentils with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderate and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the lentils.
Coat a small (3 quart) enameled cast-iron casserole with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. In a bowl, toss the onion, garlic, tomatoes, green chile, mint, tomato paste, crushed red pepper flakes, and 2 teaspoons salt.
Rinse the eggplant and pat dry. Spread 1/2 cup of the vegetable mixture in the casserole and top with half of the eggplant. Cover with half of the lentils and half of the remaining vegetable mixture. Top with the remaining eggplant, lentils and vegetables. Pour the remaining olive oil around the side and over the vegetables, then drizzle with the pomegranate molasses.
Bring the stew to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat until the eggplant is very tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature. Makes 6 servings.