I grew up mostly around my fathers family. Both his parents were of Eastern European descent. My grandmother was Polish and my grandfather was Czech. As is common in most Eastern European cultures, meat played a significant role in our lives. Most weeks we went to the local Polish store, Warta, and the Austrian butcher near our house. Family gatherings included cold cuts, sausages, and random assortments of European foods. It was a shock to my system when I moved in with Josh, a pescetarian, a non-meat eater. “What are we both going to eat?” I would think. “I don’t really like fish, or vegetables..”. I had to begin to think outside the box about our meals. How was I going to make things I did not like taste good and gluten free. The search began.
There is a large Jewish community in Montreal and you are surrounded by food that comes from the Middle East. I knew that the flavors were something I could work with but I needed a starting point. That is when I discovered Yotam Ottolenghi. He is an Israeli-English chef who seems to have the greatest palette on the planet. I discovered his books and they opened up so many options for fish and vegetables to the point where I now had too many choices!
His book Simple has been one of our favorites. Simple meaning quite literally that the recipes are simple. They are not too time consuming or ingredient crazy. This one looked hearty and appealing to the both of us so we gave it a shot. It turned out to be a great choice. In one bit, you get this wonderful mix of flavors. The roasted tomatoes, the eggplant, the lentil, and the tangy flavor of the yogurt. It is an absolute winner.