Wash and drain the lentils.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large, heavy-bottomed, lidded casserole dish over medium heat. Turn down the heat a little, add the onion and fry gently until soft and translucent but not coloured. Add the garlic and fry for 1 minute. Add the lentils and stir well. Pour the vegetable stock in and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, simmer, then cover with the lid and cook for 25 minutes or until the lentils are tender and have absorbed most of the stock.
Meanwhile, heat a large, dry stovetop grill pan over medium heat until hot. Using a pastry brush, coat the aubergine/eggplant slices with oil on both sides. Place them on the pan and fry for a few minutes. Check they have gone a golden brown and then flip over and fry for another few minutes until golden. When they are cooked, they should be soft to the touch. Remove
to a plate and season with salt. Drizzle over the agave syrup and plenty of oil. (The quality of the oil is key here, as the aubergine really soaks it all up so you will really be able to taste it.)
When the lentils are done, drain them of all but a few tablespoons of the cooking liquid. While they are still hot, season with the lemon zest and juice, vinegar and soy sauce and a few glugs of oil. Mix well and allow to cool slightly. Taste it when it is at room temperature and season if necessary. Add the tomatoes and mix together.
Finely chop the mint leaves (reserving a few for serving) and combine with enough oil to make a dense mint oil. To serve, nestle the aubergine/eggplant slices among the lentils, drizzle over the mint oil and scatter with the remaining leaves.
Yield: 4 Servings
300 g Puy lentils (or other green lentils)
extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
450 ml vegetable stock (or water with a carrot, 1⁄2 onion, celery stalk, dried bay leaf and thyme sprigs thrown into the lentils to make your own stock as they are cooking)
3 aubergine, topped, tailed and cut into 1⁄2-cm/1⁄4-inch slices
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
grated zest of 1 lemon and juice of 1⁄2
100 g sun-dried tomatoes
1 tablespoon agave syrup
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
big handful of fresh mint leaves