Lentil salad with roasted eggplant and fresh veggies gets a punchy pomegranate dressing in this vegetarian dinner recipe. It’s everything you love about summer in each bite!
Eggplant salad with four eggplant halves stuffed with lentils, fresh vegetables, arugula, and feta cheese.
Lentil salad with roasted eggplant and fresh vegetables is a delicious and nutritious recipe I’m certain you’ll make again and again.
Together, eggplants and lentils make for great teammates, but the dressing in this lentil salad recipe is what puts it over the edge. The combination of sweet, tart, and earthy pomegranate molasses and tangy sumac creates a perfect balance of flavors that will have your taste buds singing.
This vegetarian dinner recipe bursts with lively flavors and textures. It’s hearty enough to be a main dish but versatile enough to be a side. Leave off the feta and serve as a vegan dinner, perhaps alongside homemade pita bread. Or pair it with a protein like Grilled Harissa Chicken or Baked Cod. You’re going to love it anyway you serve it.
Types of Lentils
My family added lentils to salads, rice pilafs, and soups to enrich them with nutritional value, texture, and slightly nutty flavor. In this recipe, I recommend using either brown, French (Puy), or green lentils because they tend to hold their shape better.
Black: Also known as beluga lentils due to their resemblance to caviar, black lentils are small and dark with a slightly nutty flavor. They hold their shape well when cooked, making them a good choice for salads and side dishes like Mediterranean Lentil Salad.
Green: Green lentils are the most commonly found lentils in grocery stores. They have a slightly peppery flavor. Their firm texture is ideal for soups and stews, like our Mediterranean Spicy Lentil Soup With Spinach.
French (Puy): Small and greenish-grey in color with a nutty flavor. They hold their shape well when cooked. This makes them a popular choice for side dishes like our Jeweled Couscous with Pomegranate and Lentils.
Brown: The most budget-friendly lentil. Brown lentils are medium-sized with a mild, earthy flavor and a soft texture. Use them in this recipe, or Egyptian Koshari.
Red: Small and orange in color and have a sweet, nutty flavor. They cook quickly and become very soft, making them a popular choice for soups like Turkish Kırmızı Mercimek Çorbası. Red lentils are a good source of protein, fiber, iron, and other essential nutrients, and contain more antioxidants than other types of lentils. They aren’t a great choice for salads because they fall apart.
Eggplant salad on a white plate with a fork and a slice going down the middle.
What Are the Best Eggplants for Salads?
Eggplants are also a beloved ingredient in the Arab world. They’re especially abundant in the summer when they’re at their peak of sweetness. Their creamy and meaty texture is the star of the very popular baba ganoush. But eggplants aren’t only for dips! They are delicious stuffed, roasted, braised, and grilled.
In the summer months, the farmer’s markets overflow with all kinds of eggplant varieties. I like globe eggplants for this recipe, also called American eggplants, because of their meaty texture and large surface area. They have a short, squatty shape and a deep purple color.
Globe eggplants are easy to find and a great all-purpose eggplant, but feel free to try other varieties such as graffiti eggplants, Italian eggplants, Japanese eggplants, or smaller varieties like Indian eggplants or fairytales.
Just pay attention to the cooking times. Smaller eggplants will require shorter cooking time and can be great for a side dish as individual servings. Whichever variety you choose, pick the eggplants that look shiny have smooth skin, and are slightly firm with green stems.
How to Make Eggplant and Lentil Salad
Eggplant and lentil salad is a simple recipe that only requires forward thinking: Give yourself enough time to allow the eggplant to cool to room temperature.
Make the dressing: In a large bowl, whisk together ¼ cup lemon juice, ¼ olive oil, 2 teaspoons sumac, ½ teaspoon sea salt, and 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Pomegranate dressing with lemon, sumac, and olive oil in a small pitcher.
Get ready: Preheat your oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Cook the eggplants: Cut 2 eggplants in half lengthways and score the flesh with diagonal lines, making sure you don’t pierce the skin. Place cut side up on a baking tray and brush with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and roast until tender and browned at the edges, about 20 minutes. Four raw eggplant halves on a sheet tray with diamond pattern slices.Four roast eggplant halves on a sheet tray.
Cook the lentils: In a medium pot, bring 1 cup of lentils, 3 cups of water, and ½ teaspoon of cumin to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until they’re tender (but before mushy), about 20 minutes. Strain and set aside to cool.
Finish the eggplant: Brush the cooked eggplants with a thin layer of dressing and return to the oven until it’s absorbed, 3-4 minutes. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Prep the veggies: Halve 8 ounces of cherry tomatoes. Chop enough mint leaves to yield ½ cup of chopped leaves. Thinly slice 1 small red onion. Optionally, prepare yourself ½ cup of pomegranate seeds.
Combine: Add the lentils to a large mixing bowl. Add the tomatoes, arugula, mint, and dressing and toss to combine. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste. Herbs, arugula, cherry tomatoes, and lentils in a glass mixing bowl.
Serve: Arrange the eggplants on a large platter and top with the lentil salad. Crumble on 2 ounces of feta cheese and finish with the pomegranate seeds. Serve at room temperature. Overhead shot of eggplant salad, with eggplants stuffed with lentils, cherry tomatoes, arugula, and feta cheese, and finished with a pomegranate dressing.
What to Serve with Lentil and Eggplant Salad
Lentil salad with eggplant can be served as a main dish or as a side dish, depending on your preference. The addition of hearty and nutritious lentils and a serving of vegetables makes this a nutritious meal served on its own.
In this nutritious salad, roasted eggplant is glazed in a bright pomegranate dressing and stuffed with lentils and fresh vegetables. This lentil salad recipe is versatile enough to be a side dish, but hearty enough to be a main.
PREP TIME: 15MINS
COOK TIME: 40MINS
RESTING TIME: 30MINS
TOTAL Time: 1HR 25MINS
Cuisine: MIDDLE EASTERN
SERVES – 4
Course: APPETIZER, ENTREE OR SIDE DISH, SIDES/SALAD
For The Dressing
▢¼ cup fresh lemon juice (about 1-2 lemons)
▢¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
▢2 teaspoons sumac
▢½ teaspoon sea salt
▢1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
For The Salad
▢2 medium globe eggplants (1 ½ pounds)
▢2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
▢¼ teaspoon sea salt
▢¼ teaspoons black pepper
▢1 cup dried green or brown lentils, rinsed
▢½ teaspoon ground cumin
▢8 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
▢2 cups baby arugula
▢½ cup mint leaves, roughly chopped
▢1 small red onion, thinly sliced (or 3-4 sprigs thinly sliced spring onion)
▢2 ounces feta cheese (optional), crumbled (optional)
▢1 pomegranate (optional), seeded about a ½ cup
Make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, sumac, salt, and pomegranate molasses. Taste, adjust the seasoning to your liking, and set aside.
Cook the eggplant: Preheat an oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the eggplants in half lengthways and score the flesh with diagonal lines. Make sure you don’t cut through to the skin. Place the eggplants, and cut side up onto a baking tray. rush the eggplants with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast until the eggplant is tender and the top is browned and crispy, about 20 minutes.
Cook the lentils: While the eggplant roasts, place the lentils, 3 cups of water, and cumin in a medium-sized saucepan. Set the pan over medium-high heat and bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or until the lentils are tender, but still hold their shape. We want the lentils to still have a slight bite and not be mushy. Check your lentils for doneness, then drain and set aside to cool slightly.
Finish the eggplant: Once the eggplant is cooked, brush with a little of the pomegranate molasses dressing. Return to the oven until the eggplant is glossy, 3-4 minutes. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
To make the salad: In a large mixing bowl, combine the lentils, tomatoes, arugula, mint, and sliced red onion. Add the dressing and gently toss together. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
To serve: Arrange the eggplants on a large platter and top with the lentil mixture. Sprinkle the feta and pomegranate seeds on top if using. Serve at room temperature.
Mint bruises and turns bitter easily. Use a very sharp knife or kitchen scissors to chop it without bruising. While this salad can be served hot, the flavor and texture are better at room temperature. Allow enough time to allow the eggplant to cool.
When cooking lentils, make sure you taste-test for doneness. The variety, brand, and maturity of the legume will affect cooking times. If your lentils are still crunchy after 20 minutes of cooking, keep checking every five minutes until they’re tender.
Saturated Fat: 3g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.1g
Monounsaturated Fat: 5.9g
Vitamin A: 871.3IU
Vitamin C: 31.6mg