A summer staple from the coastal town of Antakya, this light stew is a favorite of Musa Dagdeviren's wife, Zeynep, who was born there. To keep the textures and flavors of the vegetables distinct, Musa layers the eggplant in a pot with tomatoes, lentils, chopped onions and garlic, then slowly cooks it, covered, without stirring. The stew is best when made ahead and allowed to mellow for at least a few hours.
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One 1 1/2-pound long, narrow eggplant
1/2 cup lentils
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
2 long green chiles, such as Anaheims—stemmed, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped mint leaves
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses (see Note)
How to Make It
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 stand for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, 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 enameled cast-iron casserole with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. In a bowl, toss the onion with the garlic, tomatoes, green chiles, mint, tomato paste, crushed red pepper and 2 teaspoons of 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.
Pomegranate molasses is available at Middle Eastern markets.
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