This one is for all my eggplant lovers out there. How are you cooking up the plump purples this summer? Can I interest you in a fun, new way to prepare them? This is a creamy, fragrant, exotic but simple meal that I'm confident will have you hooked once you try it.
I adapted this dish from a recipe my friend, Stefanie, sent me back in February. She found it in a magazine, roughly translated it from German including a list of ingredients without measurements and the basic steps, and told me to run with it. This has become a summer hit in our house. Yes, even with my eggplant-skeptic husband. (Keep reading to learn why he enjoyed it!)
The eggplant varieties we see at the markets in the summer are quite special: purple and white stripped, baby round-shaped, and long, light purple, to name just a few. I've used both the classic and stripped eggplant in this recipe because they hold their shape fairly well and make wide rounds when sliced. In the last few minutes of cooking I nestle scallops into the sauce. Scallops pair well with eggplant because they both cook up to a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth texture. Plus I wanted to give this dish a boost of protein and the important vitamin often lacking in plant-centric diets, vitamin B12.
If you're not an eggplant lover, don't give up just yet. There's something important you need to know. It's usually not the eggplant you don't like, it's how it's prepared. In an informal polling of eggplant skeptics over the years (most of whom have been guys…why is that?!) I've discovered that it's the soft texture, not taste - unless the entire dish was bland - that throws people off. But that shouldn't be reason to disregard this versatile, antioxidant-rich plant all together.
The trick to enjoying? Eggplant softens to a pulp quite easily. Cook eggplant just until firm tender and/or mix it with several other yummy ingredients such as in a ratatouille. For this dish I cut some of the rounds thicker so they don't soften as much in the cooking process, and then my husband and I were both happy. So whether you’re an eggplant lover or skeptic, I hope you enjoy this dish as much as we do!
Turmeric-Spiced Eggplant in Coconut Milk
Adapted from my friend, Stefanie
Notes: I use scallops because I like how the texture compliments the eggplant, plus they're a star food for brain health. You could also use shrimp or chickpeas. Preparing this for eggplant skeptics? Slice thicker rounds of eggplant so they don't soften as much during the cooking process.
- 3 Tbsp. ghee, divided (or coconut oil if vegan)
- 3 small-medium eggplant, sliced in rounds (~8-10 rounds per eggplant)
- 3/4 tsp. ground turmeric, divided (more as needed)
- 1 medium yellow onion, halved and sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 500 ml coconut milk
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) water
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- Thumbsize piece of ginger (or more to taste), grated
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 250 gr. scallops
- Handful fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
- Place a large, high-sided sauté pan over medium-high heat. Melt 1 Tbsp. ghee and stir in 1/4 tsp. turmeric. Make sure ghee and spice are evenly distributed around the pan. Drop heat to between medium and medium-high.
- Place eggplant rounds in pan (I fit 8-10 rounds in at once) and press down firmly so turmeric adheres to eggplant. Fry for two minutes without moving, then flip with tongs, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook 1 more minute. Transfer to a plate. Repeat process with remaining eggplant (I had 3 1/2 batches in total).
- Saute onion and garlic for a few minutes (I added mine to one side of the pan as the last 1/2 batch of eggplant was cooking), adding a splash of water if pan is dry.
- Pour in coconut milk, water, salt, and layer in fried eggplant. (If using chickpeas instead of scallops, add them now.) Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Stir through ginger and lemon. Nudge eggplant rounds to the sides and drop scallops into sauce in the middle. Partially cover and cook 3-4 minutes, or until scallops are just cooked through (this will depend on size). Ladle into bowls with rice or quinoa and fresh cilantro.
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