Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Spicy eggplant and peanut stew experiment

Someone over on 3WA posted a link to a recipe on the Post-Punk Kitchen last week that had me intrigued - spicy peanut, eggplant and shallot stew. I knew immediately that I wanted to try it, but I also knew I wanted to cut down the amount of liquid to make it even more stew-like. I like a thick stew, not a soupy one, and Chris is the same. I also have no patience whatsoever with shallots - they are a pain in the arse to peel and slice, and I wasn't sure how much they would actually add to the whole experience, so I subbed in some green onions (scallions) and said to heck with it. I also messed with the technique a little, and ended up with something that smelled like Savana Cafe's tomato-ey Pad Thai with extra peanuts and no noodles. How did it taste? Absolutely fantastic. We both inhaled huge bowls of this for supper tonight (I made it last night to allow the flavours to meld, something I would recommend) and I am immensely looking forward to eating it again tomorrow.

The recipe is vegan, and discounting all the fat in the peanut butter, pretty healthy with all those veggies in there. Considering the peanut butter also adds protein, I think it's a fair balance. This could certainly be served over rice or noodles, but makes a lovely meal all on its own.

Spicy eggplant and peanut stew

2 medium eggplants, peeled and diced into 1" chunks
1 yellow onion, diced
3" knob of fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
2 tbsp grapeseed or other neutral oil
1 tsp each cumin and coriander
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp hot Indian chili powder
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 large can diced tomatoes with juice
1.5 cups water (or veggie broth)
2-3 cups green beans, ends trimmed, cut into 2" lengths
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (if using natural, as I did, add 2 tbsp sugar or to taste)
3 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup fresh coriander, chopped
juice of half a lime

Prepare the eggplants and then throw them into a colander; salt liberally and toss to coat. Allow to stand 30 minutes to drain and soften. Rinse thoroughly and set aside.

In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the ginger and spices and stir-fry to form a paste, until it begins to be fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Add the onions and stir-fry 6 minutes, until onions soften and go translucent. Add a little water if onion sticks and wants to burn. Add the eggplant and stir to coat; cook 3 minutes or until well combined.

Add the tomato paste and stir-fry 30 seconds, then add the canned tomatoes and juice, the water or broth and the green beans. Bring up to a boil and allow to boil gently 5 minutes, then reduce heat to simmer.

Ladle out about a cup of the hot liquid into a bowl with the peanut butter in it. Stir well to emulsify, then add the peanut butter mixture back into the stock pot. Stir well to combine (adding sugar if need be), and simmer 25-30 minutes or until eggplant is tender. Stir in green onions and fresh coriander and lime juice; serve hot. Salt to taste. Can be made a day ahead and reheated; garnish with more chopped coriander.

Makes 5-8 servings depending on hunger of participants.


Celia said...

I am so going to try this.

I wonder how it would go in the crockpot....

Alison said...

I don't know if I would use the crockpot - I liked the fact that the eggplant and beans still had a tiny bit of chew, but if you like yours really soft, then go for it. I just find that veggies get really really cooked in the crockpot, and that's not always a good thing.

It was even better today, by the way. It keeps getting spicier!