Thai Basil Eggplant
I’ve said it before, but eggplant parm is one of my least favorite dishes. Don’t come at me. It’s the only thing I ever see people making with eggplant. It tastes weird and it’s heavy. I love eggplant with Asian flavors! Japanese eggplant is smaller in diameter, longer, and more brilliantly violet than Italian eggplant, not to mention more ‘taught’ for just a moment of cooking longer than the Italian variety, which I prefer. Unfortunately, this dish is made with purple eggplant, purple peppers, and purple cayenne peppers, none of which you would know about by the time you eat it, as they turn largely translucent white-green. I was writing last week about purple produce getting their color from anthocyanins, which are incredible antioxidants. When you cook produce with these compounds, the cell walls start to rupture, and they spill out, leaving the chlorophyll structure and green hues behind. Cooking reduces anthocyanins significantly, so I always try to cook until just toothsome. I also like to cook the sauce separately so that the vegetables are spending the least amount of time in the pan. The photo of this dish is using all the purple produce of Rainshadow Organics, but for a more vibrantly colored show stopper, use red and green peppers when Sarahlee has them (included in the recipe below). I hope you enjoy!
Thai Basil Eggplant
- Thai Sauce:
- 3 Tbsp rice vinegar
- 3 Tbsp soy sauce
- 3 Tbsp palm sugar or real maple syrup
- 1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 2 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp coriander
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1 Tbsp avocado oil
- 1 purple cayenne pepper, chopped (or a tsp chili flake, or a couple tsp sriracha… just add some spice to your taste)
- ¼ cup water
- 1 lb japanese eggplant, sliced in ⅓ inch pieces
- 1 large green pepper, sliced to bites
- 1 large red pepper, sliced to bites
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 bunch Thai basil leaves, chiffonade
Add all sauce ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.
In a saucepan, add the sauce and let simmer on medium heat.
In a wok or large skillet, add a little fat of choice and saute onions on medium high heat until golden, about 5 minutes.
Add bell peppers to the onions and cook an additional 3 minutes or until they just start to tender. Pour the mixture onto a plate and set aside.
Working in batches, add a single layer of the eggplant to the onion/pepper pan and cook until just tender, stirring constantly or it will either sweat or burn. Pour the cooked batches onto a plate.
When all eggplant is done, add all the eggplant, onion, and peppers to the pan, and pour the sauce over it. Add Thai basil and stir until just combined.
Serve topped with more fresh Thai basil, and maybe a side of rice and grilled chicken.