5cupsvegetable brothmay use cooking liquid from home-cooked chickpeas for part of this
4tablespoonsfresh mintminced (or 2 tbsp. dried)
1 1/2teaspoonsaltor to taste
3cupscooked chickpeasor 2 cans, drained and rinsed
1/2teaspoonred pepper flakesor more to taste
2tablespoonsfinely chopped fresh parsley
Cook the barley in water until it’s tender. I used a rice cooker to do this and wound up adding 3 or more cups of water as it all boiled out. On the stove-top, it will probably take a little less water. (Feel free to do this ahead of time; I did it the day before.)
Heat a non-stick dutch oven or large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add the eggplant and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring. Turn the heat to medium-low and add the tomato paste and the lentils; stir to combine and add 4 cups of the vegetable broth and the mint. Reduce the heat and cook until the lentils are tender (20 minutes on my stove, 40 minutes according to the original recipe).
When the lentils are tender, use a hand blender to blend the sauce right in the pot. If you don’t have a hand blender, transfer in batches to a regular blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Return it to the pot and add the extra cup of broth (if you used a regular blender, use the water to rinse the sauce residue back into the pot).
Taste and add as much salt as you like. Add the cumin and red pepper and stir in the drained barley and chickpeas. Simmer for 15 minutes and add lemon juice and additional salt (if needed) just before serving with parsley sprinkled on top. Serve over rice, if desired.
Sodium will be reduced if you use a low-sodium broth or water.