Stewed Eggplant Tomato Lentils
4.28 from 59 votes

An image of stewed eggplant tomato lentils with fresh parsley on top.

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate late summer produce than with these stewed eggplant tomato lentils! They’re my first eggplant recipe of the season and a great one to start with.

Soup vs. stew vs. topping

I couldn’t quite decide on what kind of recipe I was trying to make as I made the stewed eggplant tomato lentils. At first, I had the idea of an eggplant and lentil soup. But then I thought to myself that it would be even better to have something for serving over toast and pasta, along the lines of a caponata.

This recipe is neither and both. It’s stewy enough to be eaten in a bowl, if you like. But it’s also hearty enough to be served over a whole grain, like quinoa or farro, or scooped over a slice of your favorite toast.

Maybe I should have pushed it to be something less amorphous, but then, a lot of my favorite recipes are the same kind of in-betweens. I’m thinking of my red wine braised lentils, braised beans & kale, slow cooker chipotle lentils, and Moroccan chickpea tomato stew. All go-to recipes in my home, all similarly adaptable.

Stewed eggplant tomato lentils ingredients

These stewed eggplant tomato lentils are simple and unfussy. I think this is how it should be with recipes that show off the beauty of late summer produce. You’ll need the following for it:


I used fresh tomatoes for the recipe, since they’re perfect right now. The recipe calls for four small or three large vine or beefsteak tomatoes. You could also use 5 Roma tomatoes in their place. It’s about a pound total.

If you don’t have fresh tomatoes, you can use either a 14.5 or a 28 ounce can of whole, peeled tomatoes instead. Use what you have in your pantry; obviously, the larger can size will yield a stew that’s heavier on the tomatoes. Not a bad thing, if you ask me!


I used one medium/large globe eggplant for the stewed eggplant tomato lentils (more on eggplant varieties here, if you’re curious). It was about one and a half pounds, and just over a pound of eggplant after preparation. You could use Italian, Indian, or Japanese eggplant as well. Just be sure that the total amount of eggplant you use is equivalent to 1 – 1.5 pounds.


My go-to lentils these days are pardina lentils. These are sometimes called “Spanish brown” lentils, too. They’re a bit rounder and hold their shape better than regular brown lentils in recipes. If you don’t have them, it’s no problem. Brown, green, black and even red lentils will work nicely in the recipe.

Balsamic vinegar

Balsamic vinegar gives the recipe both a little acidity and some sweetness. I tend to save the pricier, more syrupy balsamic vinegar for drizzling. It always ends up on top of my red wine braised lentils. And I use less expensive balsamic for salad dressings, pasta salad, or as a marinade for burgers or tempeh.

If you’d like a different variation that’s still bright and sweet/sour, I’ve seen recipes that call for eggplant and lentils with pomegranate molasses.

Storing & serving stewed eggplant tomato lentils

Store the lentils in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days, or freeze them for up to six weeks. Like most stewy dishes, they taste even better after they sit for a day or two.

You can sprinkle another handful of fresh herbs over the lentils after you reheat them, simply to add a little freshness to the dish. Vegan parmesan (or hemp parmesan) and an extra drizzle of balsamic are also very nice on top!

An overhead shot of stewed eggplant tomato lentils, garnished with parsley and basil.

An image of stewed eggplant tomato lentils with fresh parsley on top.
4.28 from 59 votes

Stewed Eggplant Tomato Lentils

Author - Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Yields: 4 servings


  • 1/2 cup (90 g) brown or pardina lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 1 medium or large globe or Italian eggplant (see notes for substitutions), trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch cubes (about 1 1/4 lb/567 g after preparation)
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small white or yellow onion, chopped (about 150 g)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (15 g)
  • 4 medium sized vine (or 5 roma) tomatoes, trimmed and chopped (about 1 lb/454 g) or 1 14.5- or 28-ounce can whole, peeled tomatoes*
  • 1 tablespoon (12 g) cane or brown sugar (optional, to bring out the sweetness of the tomatoes)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for salting the eggplant
  • 3/4 cup (177 mL) water
  • dash crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup each fresh, chopped parsley and basil leaves


  • Bring 2 1/2 cups water to boil in a pot. Add the lentils. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Gently drain off any excess water in the pot and set the lentils aside. (NB: you can also skip this step and use 1 cup pre-cooked or canned lentils in the recipe.)
  • While the lentils are cooking, place the cubed eggplant into a colander. Sprinkle it generously with kosher salt and allow it to sit for 15 minutes. Then, rinse the eggplant and pat it dry firmly with paper towels or a clean dish towel.
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium. Add the onion. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often, or until the onion is soft and clear. Add the garlic. Cook for another minute, or until the garlic is fragrant, stirring constantly.
  • Add the eggplant, tomatoes, sugar, and salt. Cover the skillet and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the eggplant is getting soft and the tomatoes have released their juices. Add 3/4 cup water to the skillet, along with the cooked lentils, crushed red pepper flakes, and vinegar. When the ingredients reach a simmer, reduce the heat to low. Continue to simmer, uncovered, for another 8-10 minutes, or until the mixture resembles a thick stew.
  • Add additional salt, vinegar, and pepper to taste. Stir in the fresh herbs. Serve.


If using whole, peeled, canned tomatoes, add them to the recipe at the same time you'd add fresh tomatoes. Then, use a spoon or a potato masher to crush the canned tomatoes directly in your skillet. Continue with the recipe.

To salt or not to salt eggplant?

Whether or not to salt eggplant is one of those hotly debated preparation methods. The idea behind salting is to eliminate bitterness, but some argue that eggplants have been bred not to be bitter anymore.

Personally, I think salted eggplant tastes better. Bitterness (or lack thereof) aside, I think that salting improves the texture, making the eggplant softer once it’s cooked. If you don’t have the time or don’t like to salt eggplant, you can skip the step in this recipe. I’m a fan of salting, but I don’t think it’s necessary.

A bright, sideways shot of stewed eggplant tomato lentils and herbs.

I made the stewed eggplant tomato lentils right after I got back from my refreshing long weekend away with friends. They were inspired by my time outside of the city and the farm stands that I passed by while I was gone.

The recipe was perfect for a Sunday afternoon when I didn’t have much time or energy to cook, but wanted something rustic, homemade, and summery to eat. I’m still enjoying the leftovers, mostly over toast, but tonight I’ve got big plans to serve it over pasta. I’m sure it’ll be tasty, and I’m excited to hear how you serve the dish, too.


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Categories: Recipes, Main Dishes, Side Dishes
Method: One Pot, Stovetop
Ingredients: Lentils
Dietary Preferences: Gluten Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free, Vegan
Recipe Features: Meal Prep

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Recipe Rating

  1. 5 stars
    I had this from a caterer in the past. So good BUT this is so much better. I added mushrooms since I had them and used honey and fresh tomatoes. I have also added lamb in the past. Great recipe. Thank you!

  2. 3/4 ” cubes still taste raw after 30 extra minute simmering and adding more water.

  3. 5 stars
    I had it over quinoa and it was delicious! Thanks so much for the recipe. I will make it again. Even my carnivorous husband is going to love it, I know. Using fresh summer tomatoes is just heaven.

  4. 5 stars
    I can’t believe how good this tasted yet how easy it was!! Will be making this one over and over again!

  5. 5 stars
    Delicious! Used maple syrup instead of sugar and this was so yummy. Thank you for a wonderful recipe.

  6. 5 stars
    I made this on a whim to use up the tomatoes and eggplant piling up in my fridge and holy cow! I followed the recipe near exactly (didn’t rinse my salted eggplant, subbed fresh herbs for dry, subbed red pepper flakes for chili powder) and served it over buttered rotini with Parm and some sauteed greens. It blew us away! One of those “take a bite and just close your eyes and let it wash over you” kinds of deliciousness! Highly recommend this one.

  7. 5 stars
    My goodness this is a delicious recipe. This is a nice change-up from usual things I make with lentils. I didn’t have any fresh tomatoes, but a can of tomato sauce and a can of diced tomatoes made this fantastic.

  8. 5 stars
    Made this for dinner and it was loved by my omnivore husband and me equally. Very hearty and delicious. I subbed green lentils because that’s what I had and adjusted the cooking time accordingly. I also was lacking in fresh herbs so I added a generous pinch of dried parsley and dried basil. Will definitely make again. It will be even better when tomatoes are in season!

  9. 5 stars
    Thanks Gena. This was delicious yesterday and we are both eyeing the leftovers for today!

  10. 5 stars
    Wow! I’m giving this 5 stars because even though I didn’t make this exact recipe, I made basically the same thing earlier this summer – twice. I first made it with canned tomatoes and then had my mind blown by how much better the second time when I used fresh tomatoes. It’s striking how similar your recipe is to the one I made up on the fly. I added smoked paprika and a few tablespoons of tahini to make it creamy. I have 2 small eggplants and a giant heirloom tomato from my CSA and I think I am going to make a small batch of this today! I simply call this dish “eggplant yum” Hope you are well, dear Gena!

  11. 5 stars
    Love this recipe! I made it last night and served with a little bit of pasta and some fresh bread, and there’s plenty left for both me and my husband again tonight.