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Courgette and lentil gratin

Courgette gratin

This recipe makes a hearty vegetarian main, and is inspired by the layered Italian dish aubergine melanzane, but uses courgettes and lentils for a more filling meal with some additional protein from the pulses. The key to this recipe is for the lentils to be slightly al-dente when added to the dish so that any excess liquid coming out of the courgettes is absorbed. It also tastes better if you let it sit for about an hour after coming out of the oven to let it firm up a little before serving. It goes very well with a simple green salad and some crusty bread to mop up any leftover sauce! Feel free to substitute the mixed herbs with fresh if you have them – basil, thyme, oregano all go well.


Serves 4

2 balls mozerella cheese

250g dried Puy lentils (or 2 tins)

6 medium courgettes, sliced lengthways about 0.5cm thickness

Parmesan cheese for grating

For the tomato sauce

3 tbsp olive oil

2 red onions

3 cloves of garlic

900g fresh tomatoes or 2 tins

1 tbsp tomato puree

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp honey

2 tsp mixed herbs

Salt and pepper


Start by putting the lentils on to boil – ensure they are well covered with water and once it has come to the boil, turn down to a simmer with the lid on. Cook for about 15 minutes until the lentils are almost cooked through but still with a bit of bite, then drain.

In the meantime, finely slice the red onions and fry in the olive oil on a low heat until starting to soften. Then chop the fresh tomatoes if using, saving a few for the top which can be cut into slices.

Crush the garlic and add to the onions, and cook for a few minutes. Add the tomato puree and balsamic vinegar to the onions and stir through.

Then add the tomatoes, mixed herbs, honey, salt and pepper to taste, and the drained lentils to make a ragu-like sauce.

Using a shallow oven dish cover the bottom of the dish with a layer of the tomato lentil sauce, then cover with a layer of the sliced courgettes.

Break up the mozerella into small chunks, and divide into 3 equal portions – one for each layer. Scatter mozerella over the courgettes and grate a little bit of parmesan on top.

Repeat this process twice so that you have 3 layers of ragu, courgette and cheese. Before putting the final layer of cheese on, arrange the reserved sliced tomatoes on top and then cover with the remaining mozeralla and a sprinkling of parmesan.

Bake in the oven at 180 degrees for about 1 hour until golden all over. Leave to stand for about an hour before serving. This can also be made ahead of time and reheated.