Rich and flavoursome eggplant salad with French lentils, tomatoes, and a lemony-garlic dressing.
A Mediterranean-inspired eggplant salad packed with flavoursome fresh herbs and spices – this is a hugely satisfying meal.
Soft, juicy eggplant reminds me of my Nana’s traditional Croatian cooking (which to be honest – is almost anything slightly over-cooked, covered in copious amounts of olive oil and garlic. Oh, and let's not forget the hunk of stale bread and a small glass of 50/50 homemade red wine and water! I can just hear her, Sveetheart, eat some more!).
Pairing it with French lentils and a medley of other things, has turned it into a meal in its own right, and a great source of dietary protein. Entirely plant-based, as always, this is one that will for sure impress anyone at the dinner table.
Eggplants have that gorgeous deep purple pigment in the skin, which lends powerful protective phytonutrients called anthocyanins, with antioxidant effects, while lentils are a fantastic source of prebiotic fibre, needed to feed the friendly bacteria in the gut.
This is an absolute mouth-watering plateful of deliciousness!
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Eggplant Salad – How to Make:
1 / Pre-heat the oven at 200˚C / 392˚F. Start by prepping the eggplant: slice off the ends, then cut into rounds, about 1/2 cm thick. Slice each round in half to create half-moons, or into strips if it's particularly wide.
Toss with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, then spread over a baking tray lined with baking paper.
Bake for around 25 minutes. You'll need to use tongs to toss periodically to ensure they cook evenly. The eggplant will shrink and turn golden once ready - delicious!
2 / Rinse lentils well under running water, then add to a pot, cover with ample water, bring to a boil and simmer until soft, about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.
In an ideal world – soak your lentils in water during the day prior to dinner, it will help improve bioavailability of nutrients and speed up your cooking time. Hooray!
3 / Once the eggplant has cooked, remove and set aside. Place cherry tomatoes and walnuts on a tray and bake until the tomatoes are shrivelled and juicy. You’ll need to take the walnuts out after about 5 minutes as they toast up quite quickly – once they're done, roughly chop them up.
4 / In a large bowl, combine the cooked eggplant, lentils, tomatoes, walnuts, capers, preserved lemons (sliced thin) and finely chopped parsley.
5 / Whisk all dressing ingredients together and pour over salad, toss. To serve, add a couple of drops of lemon essential oil to coconut yoghurt, mix well, and add a dollop with your meal.
Which are the best lentils to use?
French green lentils (aka Du Puy lentils) are the absolute best for salads, because they hold their shape well when cooked. Red lentils will go mushy (perfect for soups or as a mash), and brown lentils would work though not my first pick.
What can I substitute for Za’atar?
Za’atar is a Middle Eastern seasoning. You can either combine the individual ingredients to make your own, or keep it simple and use a single spice such as sumac, which has a lovely lemony taste.
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon ground sumac
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano or marjoram
Combine in a small jar, use 1 teaspoon in the dressing.
Where do I source lemon essential oil from?
Firstly – it’s optional – you can always use fresh lemon. Secondly – please only use the doTERRA Lemon essential oil, as it is safe and approved for use as a food flavouring.
This oil is cold-pressed from the rind of the fruit. The flavor is much more intense than using fresh lemon juice, so is a nice little addition to add some wow-factor.
What do I serve this Eggplant Salad with?
Honestly, it’s so filling and flavorsome it really is a stand-alone meal. If you’re enjoying smaller portions, then perhaps;
- Steamed baby potatoes with green beans
- Simple acid-free tomato and cucumber salad
- Chunk of toasted sourdough
Can I freeze it?
Yes, but I’d leave out the parsley and add it fresh.
More Mediterranean-inspired dishes
- Healthy Pasta Salad with Mediterranean Flavours
- Easy Lemony Turkish Lentil Soup
- Moroccan Chickpea Vegetable Tagine
- Lemon White Bean Kale Soup
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Enjoy, and see you next week,
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- 3 eggplants large
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil cold-pressed
- Salt and pepper to season
- 1 cup French/green lentils 200g
- 1 cup parsley flat leaf
- 250 g cherry tomatoes
- ½ cup walnuts
- 1 tablespoon capers
- ½ preserved lemon
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil cold pressed
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Za’atar spice blend
- 1-2 cloves garlic minced fine
- 4 tablespoons thick coconut yoghurt
- 2 drops doTERRA lemon essential oil
- Pre-heat oven at 200˚C / 392˚F. Prepare the eggplant: slice off the ends, then cut into rounds, about ½ cm thick. Slice each round in half to create half-moons. Toss with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, then spread over a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake for around 25 minutes. Use tongs to toss periodically to ensure they cook evenly. Eggplant will shrink and turn golden once ready.
- Rinse lentils well under running water, then add to a pot, cover with water (ample water), bring to a boil and let simmer until soft, about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside. See my notes re soaking the lentils in advance for optimal nutrition and digestion.
- Once the eggplant has cooked, remove and set aside. Place cherry tomatoes and walnuts on a tray and bake until the tomatoes are shrivelled and juicy. You’ll need to take the walnuts out after about 5 minutes as they toast up quite quickly – once they're done, roughly chop.
- In a large bowl, combine eggplant, lentils, tomatoes, walnuts, capers, preserved lemons (sliced thin) and finely chopped parsley.
- Whisk all dressing ingredients together and pour over salad, toss. To serve, add a couple of drops of lemon essential oil to coconut yoghurt, mix well, and add a dollop with your meal.
- French or green lentils are preferred as they hold their shape well once cooked, red lentils will turn to mush.
- From a nutrition and digestion standpoint, I like to soak my lentils (red lentils are the exception) in water for up to 12 hours before I use them. This help reduce phytic acid content and enhance bioavailability of minerals. It also speeds up the cooking time. It’s so easy to do – just combine lentils and water in a pot in the morning, leave them on the kitchen counter, then drain and rinse ready to cook at dinner time.
- 3 whole large eggplants sounds a lot, but remember they shrink down considerably. No need to salt them prior.
- You can grill the eggplants if preferred.
- I used cherry tomatoes on the vine – super cute if you can find.
- Pine nuts can be used in place of walnuts.
- Sumac is an alternative to Za'atar spice.
- See my yummy preserved lemons recipe here, or use store-bought
- Please only use doTERRA Lemon essential oil, as it is approved and safe for use to flavour foods. You can purchase essential oils here
- You can of course use plain lemon juice in place of the essential oil