Spicy Szechuan Eggplant with Mushrooms & Almonds
1 large (about 1lb 4 oz) globe eggplant, or 10 small round Indian eggplants, or 3 long Japanese eggplants cut into irregular shapes. (Video on how to cut eggplants)
1 tbsp minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
1 large red onion, julienned (Video on how to julienne onions)
1 large (8-9oz) green bell pepper, cut in 1/4 inch strips (Video on how to cut bell peppers)
6 (3-4 oz) 1 16 oz 1/2 cup small mulit-colored peppers, quartered (optional)
1 16-oz package portobello mushrooms, washed and sliced (may substitute button mushrooms or baby bellas) (Video on cutting portobello mushrooms)
toasted slivered almonds (or cashews) (Video on toasting almonds)
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp molasses
2 tbsp brown sugar (packed)
1/4 cup organic tamari (may substitute soy sauce)
Enough water or vegetable stock to make 2 cups along with the previous three ingredients
Yield: 7 cups/3 lbs 11 oz
In a large sauté pan, sauté onions until wilted adding water or vegetable stock to prevent scorching. Stir in garlic, mushrooms and peppers. (If using crushed red peppers, reserve for later.)
Add about 1/2 cup liquid, cover and cook on medium heat until veggies are fork tender, stirring frequently. Once the mushrooms have released their liquid (signifying the veggies are nearly done) begin making your sauce.
For the sauce, pour 1/2 cup boiling water into a 2-cup measuring cup. With a whisk, stir in brown sugar until completely dissolved. Add molasses and stir until dissolved. Whisk in tamari and set aside to cool.
Check your vegetables and see if the eggplants are fork tender. This is the one vegetable that you really want to be cooked through. If that is ready, finish making your sauce.
Note: I don’t like adding cornstarch until I’m ready to use it. Note that the sauce mixture doesn’t have to be completely cooled, just not hot. If it is hot, the cornstarch will start to thicken prematurely and may clump. If the sauce is still too hot, add a half-cup cold water or veggie stock.
When the eggplants are ready, stir in the almonds or cashews. If you are using crushed red peppers, add this now.
Finish your sauce by whisking 2 tablespoons organic cornstarch into the sweetened tamari mixture. Add enough liquid to bring the total amount to 2 cups. Stir to make sure the cornstarch is fully incorporated with no lumps.
Stir sauce into vegetable mixture. Cover and allow to come to a soft boil, stirring frequently. You will notice that the cornstarch mixture was rather cloudy when you first added it to the vegetables. In a minute or two, the mixture will become dark and clear. Allow this mixture to simmer for about 5 minutes for the flavors to incorporate, the sauce to thicken and become a clear, rich color.
Serve over brown or red rice. (Video on how to cook brown rice)
Note: If you prefer your veggies to have more of a crunchy texture, sauté the mushrooms and eggplants first and after the mushrooms have released their liquid, stir in the peppers, onion and garlic. Then add the nuts, crushed peppers, and sauce.
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Frontier brand organics and Wholesome Organic Molasses are products I like to use and can attest to their quality. Light brown sugar and organic tamari can usually be found at your local markets, Asian markets and health food stores.
I’ve not personally tried these particular brands of blanched slivered almonds and whole organic cashews. They have good ratings on Amazon and are reasonably good prices, and also offer free shipping. I recommend purchasing the 2-pound bags to begin with to see if you like them. They offer a better value than the 1-pound bags. Freeze or refrigerate what you are not using right away. You may also be able to find these at your local grocers.
I’m a big fan of Lundberg Organic Rices. They go through rigorous testing processes and have been found to have safer arsenic levels than some other brands. I’ve recently quite fallen in love with short-grain rice. It’s got more body and texture than long-grain rice and it is excellent for making Sushi. Studies have shown that while nutritionally deficient white rice raises blood-sugar levels, brown rice actually reduces them! I also use brown long-grain, brown jasmine, brown basmati, wild and brown rice blends, black, and red rices when I want to mix things up! Remember, the more colorful, the more antioxidants, and the more healthy!
This is a particularly good price for this short-grained brown rice and includes free shipping for prime members. Bulk orders are usually a better buy and this will last you along time. You may also find it at your local grocers and health food stores as well as other brands that may serve you just as well.