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Store Cupboard Suppers – Easy Aubergine and Lentil Stew with Feta.
Ad: I was paid a small fee to cover the cost of ingredients to make this dish.
What do you keep in your kitchen store? Staples like rice, pasta and lentils of course – I have red ones for soups and those lovely greeny black puy lentil which I enjoy as a side dish with my own mushroom stroganoff recipe or cooked up into a main dish by adding vegetables and feta. I also keep a selection of Ponti vegetables in oil as a standby to use on an antipasti board, and as a topping for pizza or pasta. This time though, I wanted to see if I could adapt one of Ottolenghi’s best-loved recipes, Puy Lentil and Aubergine Stew, into a more substantial dish I could make from the contents of my store cupboard.
Dried puy lentils and a jar of Ponti’s grilled aubergine or melanzane in oil are the two main ingredients. I did cheat a bit because I had some plum cherry tomatoes that needed using up and I always have fresh herbs, onions and garlic to hand. But I suspect the dish would work pretty well with a jar of sun-dried tomatoes instead of the fresh ones. And, while I used fresh thyme, dried would be just as good. Finally, I’ve topped my dish with crumbled feta because I think it adds a little more substance. But, you could use yoghurt or crème fraîche if that’s what you have in the fridge.
And you could easily pimp the dish up with a few more of the Ponti vegetables – mushrooms or peppers would make a nice change for example. In fact, you can now easily buy all the Italian ingredients you need for a dish like this from the Ciao Gusto Italian Deli at Ocado. It’s the perfect place to stock up your store cupboard with over 30 of Italy’s most popular brands all in one place. Riso Gallo, Filippo Berio, Giovanni Rana and Cirio are joined by some great Italian products including Valsoia dairy-free ice cream, Auricchio cheeses and Negroni charcuterie.
I’ve cooked the entire dish in my Heston Blumenthal Fast-Slow electric pressure cooker – an alternative to an Instant Pot I bought because I prefer the styling. I’m so happy it’s working again now – a couple of weeks ago I managed to pour a whole jug of stock into the machine without the main cooking pot being there. I spotted the error pretty quickly (hard not to as hot stock was flooding out of the base of the pressure cooker) and unplugged it. I did add more liquid, in the form of water which I sprayed through the pot to wash out the remains of the stock. Then I turned the unit upside down and left it sitting on a towel for 72 hours. No luck – I could tell there was still water in the unit and a friend who is a lot more patient than I’m inclined to be told me to keep waiting. Eventually, ten days later, my precious Heston Blumenthal Fast-Slow cooker was nicely dried out – and it powered up perfectly. I’ve used it a couple of times since and all seems to be fine. You could make this dish yourself in an electric pressure cooker or instant pot if you have one, or simply use a heavy-based cast-iron casserole and cook the lentils for longer. I’m including instructions for both in the recipe below – you’ll cut about 20 minutes off the cooking time by using a pressure cooker and you won’t need to watch the pan on the stove.
Once you’ve made up the aubergine and puy lentil stew (and I’ve provided quantities for 2 main meal-sized portions) you can keep the mixture in the fridge for 3 days or so by leaving out the feta and garnish until you are ready to serve. You can also freeze the mixture – it should keep for up to 6 months.
Here’s what I did.
A hearty store-cupboard stew using aubergine preserved in oil and dried puy lentils
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 medium red onion
- 1 tsp picked thyme leaves or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 jar Ponti's Aubergines
- 90 g dried puy lentils
- 250 ml stock I used homemade chicken stock
- 50 ml dry white wine
- 60 g feta
- 1 pinch chilli flakes
- salt and black pepper
- 120 g cherry plum tomatoes
Finely chop the onion and garlic and cut the plum tomatoes in half
Heat half the oil in an electric pressure cooker or in a heavy-based casserole. Add the onion, garlic and thyme and a good pinch of salt.
Saute over a medium heat stirring regularly until the onion is soft, translucent and slightly golden. This should take 8-10 minutes
Remove from the heat and put the mixture to one side
Add the tomatoes and aubergines to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Add most of the rest of the oil, reserving a little to garnish the dish.
Cook for a further 8 minutes till the tomatoes are completely soft and starting to char
Add the onion mixture back into the pan, together with the lentils, stock and wine. If you are using a pressure cooker set the pressure to high and cook for 15 minutes. If you are cooking the mixture on a stovetop, bring to the boil then cook gently for about 40 minutes till the lentils are soft but still nutty.
To serve, crumble over the feta and garnish with the chilli flakes and a drizzle of oil. This dish can also be served at room temperature.
Calories are approximate based on serving this as a main dish for two people
The end result is a wonderfully earthy stew. My version isn’t veggie because of the chicken stock, but that could be easily remedied without compromising the dish by using vegetable stock or water. If you wanted to serve it as a side dish it would work really well with this Greek Lamb Casserole or with this Mediterranean Red Pepper and Feta Filo Pie. But, I love it just as it is, mopped up with crusty bread and with a fresh green salad on the side.
The pretty fluted bowl I’ve served this dish in was one of a pair sent to me at Christmas as a gift from Canterbury Pottery. You can find out more about it in my review. I’m particularly impressed at how versatile it is, a dish that works well for both sweet and savoury food and can be used in both oven and microwave and cleaned in the dishwasher.
And, if you feel like stocking up, I’m delighted to let you know that there are Ponti products on special offer in February including the grilled aubergine I used, gilled peppers and organic capers in wine vinegar (40% off if you buy any two). And there’s 25% off Ponti Aceto IGP purple.
Thinking of making this yourself? why not pin the post for later