2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, sliced into 1cm-thick rounds
1 eggplant, diced into 1cm cubes
1 cup red wine
ó cup tomato paste
750ml vegetable stock
375g pack whole green lentils, rinsed
400g can chopped tomatoes
6 basil leaves, torn, plus extra, to serve
1 fresh bay leaf
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp brown sugar
Sea-salt flakes and freshly ground
black pepper, to season
Cooked penne, to serve
Shaved parmesan, to serve
Heat oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Add onion, garlic, celery and carrot and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Add eggplant and cook for a further 5 minutes or until eggplant has softened slightly. Stir in wine and tomato paste, then bring to the boil. Cook for 5 minutes or until wine has reduced by half. Transfer mixture to the bowl of a 5L slow cooker and place in appliance.
Stir in 2 cups of water, stock, lentils, tomatoes, herbs, of the vinegar and of the sugar. Cover with lid and cook on low setting for 6 hours. Stir in remaining vinegar and remaining sugar. Season.
Serve lentil and eggplant ragu on or tossed through cooked penne. Scatter over shaved parmesan and extra basil leaves.