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Tomato, lentil & aubergine ragù

When I was growing up, my aunty Sophie often made a big pan of tomatoey lentils when we went round.  This version is a nod to a traditional Italian meat ragù, but I have added aubergine instead and served with soft polenta & wilted greens.


6 tablespoons olive oil

2 onions, finely chopped

2 aubergines, cut into 2.5cm cubes

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

½ teaspoon fennel seeds

2 bay leaves

pinch of chilli flakes

200ml red wine

2 × 400g tins beluga lentils, drained and rinsed

2 × 400g tins chopped tomatoes salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil, add the onions and soften over a low heat for about 10–15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in another frying pan, heat the remaining oil, add the aubergines and a pinch of salt, then fry on high for 5–10 minutes, stirring often until the aubergine cubes are golden. Set aside.

By this point, the onions should be soft and tinged golden. Add the garlic, fennel seeds, bay leaves and chilli flakes. Fry for a further 2–3 minutes, then tip in the wine. Bring to the boil and boil until it has reduced by two-thirds in volume (this shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes). Last but not least, add the lentils, tomatoes and the browned aubergine cubes. Season and reduce the heat, then simmer for 15–20 minutes until the sauce has thickened a little and the aubergine is buttery soft.

Just before serving, fish out the bay leaves. This ragù is great with soft polenta, pasta or served simply with a hunk of bread.

This recipe is from Take One Tin by Lola Milne.

If you liked this recipe, check out this Spicy Tomato and Lentil Layer Pie from The Cookbook by Higgidy.