This riff on a classic Provençal dish of simmered vegetables gets an upgrade by imparting the veggies with a slightly smoky flavour from the grill and then tossing them into a salad with nutritious lentils and a refreshing minty dressing. A perfect vegetarian main dish for the summer season, the lentils and dressing can be made up to three days in advance, while the vegetables can be grilled the day before your gathering. But dress the salad only before serving.
1 cup (250 mL) black (beluga) or green lentils
2 medium or 1 large eggplant, halved lengthwise
2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise
2 red bell peppers, quartered
1 medium red onion, quartered
1 cup (250 mL) crumbled feta
1/2 cup (125 mL) sliced sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 cup (125 mL) sliced Kalamata olives (optional)
1/3 cup (80 mL) extra-virgin olive oil or camelina oil
2 Tbsp (30 mL) red wine vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 cup (250 mL) fresh mint
1/2 cup (125 mL) fresh basil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tsp (10 mL) honey
1 Tbsp (15 mL) Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1/2 tsp (2 mL) black pepper , plus extra for grilling vegetables
Place lentils, a couple pinches of salt, and 4 cups (1 L) water in medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer covered until lentils are tender but not too soft, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain well.
Lightly sprinkle cut sides of eggplant with salt and let sit for 15 minutes (you will see beads of water form on the surface). Pat dry with paper towel.
Heat grill to medium-high. Lightly brush vegetables with oil and season lightly with salt. Grill vegetables, in batches if there is not enough grill space, until charred in a few spots and tender, flipping once. Remove vegetables from grill as they finish cooking.
Once cool enough to handle, chop vegetables into 1/2 in (1.25 cm) pieces, place in large bowl, and let sit for 10 minutes. Drain any liquid that has pooled in the bottom of bowl and then toss vegetables with lentils, feta, sun-dried tomatoes, and olives, if using.
To make dressing, in blender or food processor container, place 1/3 cup (80 mL) oil, vinegar, mint, basil, garlic, honey, mustard, salt, and black pepper, and blend until smooth. Gently toss dressing with salad.
No backyard grill? These vegetables can also be prepared by roasting in a 400 F (200 C) oven. But do so on two baking sheets or in two batches to avoid overcrowding a single pan.