Verjuice, which is made from unripe grapes, was an important cooking ingredient in medieval times. It has recently been repopularized by Australian chef Maggie Beer. Being acidic, it can be used in much the same way as vinegar or lemon juice, for instance in salad dressings or marinades, but it has a mellower, fruitier flavor.
The Meat Free Monday Cookbook edited by Annie Rigg © 2016 Kyle Books, and the photographs © Tara Fisher. Hardcover edition originally published in April 2012. No images may be used, in print or electronically, without written consent from the publisher.
Preheat the oven to 300°F.
Place the lentils and 6 cups of water in a saucepan, bring to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes.
Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy-bottomed casserole dish, and cook the eggplant in batches until golden. Remove and set aside. Add the onion and cook for 10 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and a good pinch of salt, and cook, stirring every now and then to prevent the onion from burning, for 3–4 minutes or until the onions are a golden brown color.
Add the tomatoes with 1 tablespoon olive oil and warm through. Pour in the verjuice and cook, stirring, for 1 minute until the liquid has reduced by two-thirds, then remove from the heat and set aside.
Add half of the eggplant slices, sprinkle with half of the lentils, then add the rest of the eggplant and top with the rest of the lentils. Pour over the remaining olive oil and the pomegranat molasses.
Cover, and cook in the oven for 1 hour, then stir through the preserved lemons.
Return to the oven for another 45 minutes–1 hour or until the eggplant is cooked through. Check for seasoning and serve warm with the parsley and mint stirred through.
Serve on individual plates, top with quark or mascarpone, and drizzle with a last dash of olive oil.