1cupcooked green lentils, (approx. 1/3 cup dry lentils, if cooking from scratch)
For the herby topping:
1/4cupfresh oregano, finely chopped (about half a cup of loose leaves) or substitute parsley
Zest of one lemon
10green olives, (pitted), finely chopped
Preheat oven to 190C (375F) fanbake.
If cooking lentils from scratch, rinse them in a sieve under running water, then add to a saucepan, cover with plenty of water and bring to the boil. Cook at a low boil for around 20 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked but still retain a little bite. Drain and set aside.
Wash eggplant, cut in half lengthways and score the cut surface with a deep criss-cross pattern. This will help it cook evenly and let the flavour of the tomato mixture penetrate the eggplant while cooking.
Heat a large frypan (skillet) over medium to high heat. If your frypan is big enough to hold all four eggplant halves, add 2 tbsp of olive oil, swirl to evenly coat the pan and bring the oil up to heat. Once the oil is hot, add the eggplant halves and allow to fry for 5-10 minutes or until well browned. If your frypan is smaller, add 1 tbsp of olive oil and do the eggplant halves in two batches.
Remove browned eggplant to a baking dish - ideally one that snugly holds all four halves close together. Season the cooked surface of the eggplant well with a sprinkle of salt.
Using the same frypan, add 2 tbsp more olive oil, bring up to heat, then add the red onion and garlic. Cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring often, until the onion and garlic are soft, golden and fragrant.
Add the canned tomatoes, smoked paprika, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, cooked lentils, and a little salt to season. Stir everything together and cook over a medium heat for around 10 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
Spoon the tomato and lentil mixture evenly over the four eggplant halves. It will seem like a lot, but just pile it up as best you can. Once cooked, the tomato mixture will reduce and thicken quite a lot.
Bake the eggplant halves for 45-60 minutes, or until the eggplant is very soft and provides almost no resistance to a fork or butter knife. Cooking time will vary depending on the size of the eggplant, so start checking from 45 minutes. If they're underdone at that point you can also turn up the oven temperature for the remainder of the cooking time to 200C (390F).
While the eggplant is cooking make the herby topping. Mix the chopped fresh oregano, lemon zest and green olives together in a small bowl and set aside until serving time.
Serve the eggplant hot or at room temperature, sprinkled with the herby topping.
Serves 4 as part of a meal, or serves 2 with no accompaniments.