I googled the history of lentils and learned a few interesting facts about them.
Man has been eating tiny dried lentils practically since the beginning.
Wow, really? I wonder how my ancestors knew they were edible.
By 6000 B.C., lentils had reached Greece, where the legumes were regarded as poor man’s food. The opposite was true in Egypt, where remains of lentils were found in the royal tombs at Thebes dating to 2400 B.C. A second-century fresco illustrates the preparation of lentil soup.
Smart Egyptians! I should illustrate my recipes more often.
Along with the Egyptians, the ancient Romans and Hebrews commonly ate lentils, which are mentioned several times in the Bible — most notably in the Genesis story of brothers Jacob and Esau. Esau, the firstborn, sells his birthright to Jacob for some lentil stew.
That’s why it’s good to know how to make your own lentil stew.
You won’t need to sell your birthright for this dish. I quickly calculated how much this dish would cost to make, about $5 if you make it with a nut-based yogurt. Otherwise it’s cheaper. I adapted the recipe from Yotam Ottolonghi’s practical and inspiring cookbook, “Simple.”
Lentils Cooked With Eggplant & Tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons olive oil + more for serving
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 4 thyme sprigs
- 1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into small dice
- 10 grape tomatoes, or 4 regular but sweet tomatoes, diced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 Persian dried lemon, carefully stubbed with a knife, or a piece of preserved lemon or lemon zest
- 1 +½ cups lentils
- Almond yogurt – optional
- Warm the olive oil in a medium skillet with high sides, over high heat. Add the onion and lower the heat to medium, stirring often.
- Add the thyme, eggplant and tomatoes, season and stir. Add bay leaf and Persian lemon and stir. Saute for 2-3 minutes.
- Cover with water or vegetable stock and cook over medium-low heat until the lentils are tender but retain a bite. Serve in deep plates or medium bowls with a quick drizzle of olive oil and a dollop of yogurt.