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E is For Eggplant

Vegetables from A to Z

By Hannah Marcotti

e-is-for-eggplantSometimes a recipe idea takes time before it makes it on to paper. I was determined to create a gluten-free eggplant fritter using simple ingredients, but the results just wouldn’t pass my ultimate test. Three batches later, my logical (and handsome) husband, Patrick, suggested I head in a different direction and let the fritters go . . . for now. I resisted at first, then logic won. Had he not stepped in, I’d be on batch no. 7.

My fridge is bursting with foods from the farmer’s market: garlic scapes, celeriac, kale, basil, and grass-fed beef. In the pantry I have my staples: broth, noodles, and coconut milk. Logic said make curry. The kids said make those noodles and make them fast.

Eggplant comes to the markets around the time that tomatoes and peppers (other nightshades) arrive. I love eggplant because it is “meaty” and holds up to any sauce you throw it in. It is high in potassium and fiber and–this may surprise you–contains nicotine. You would have to eat a lot of eggplant (over twenty pounds) to match the amount of nicotine in a single cigarette–how’s that for a fun party fact to throw out! It’s certainly a vegetable that can take center stage. Sometimes I roast eggplant, put it over pasta with lots of lemon, olive oil, and romano cheese. Sprinkle with fresh black pepper, pour a glass of wine, and you’ve got a luscious, hearty, and healthy meal.

It took just one batch of curry to pass my recipe test–a far cry from my fritter frenzy. Let this recipe be a guide and use ingredients in your fridge and cabinets. I used the celeriac as a substitute for the potato that’s typical in yellow curries. (I’ve provided other substitution ideas in the recipe below.) Challenge yourself to be creative with what you have on hand. Who knows, you may create a family favorite.

Did my kids eat it? Well, they ate the noodles in vegetable broth with some avocado and sliced turkey on top. They were too hungry to wait and that was super easy to throw together as my curry simmered away. Patrick and I sipped a cold sweet Riesling while we ate, which is a logical wine to pair with this dish!

Beef and Eggplant Curry over Rice Noodles

8 ounces (half package) rice vermicelli, soaked in hot water until al dente, then drained
1 pound grass-fed ground beef (check out farmer’s markets for local meats)
2 garlic scapes, sliced into ¼-inch pieces (or garlic, scallions, shallots)
1 celeriac bulb, peeled and diced (or potato, cauliflower)
2 Italian eggplant, cut into small dice
1 tablespoon coconut oil (or grapeseed, olive oil)
2 teaspoon yellow curry powder
1 can coconut milk (5.6 oz)
2 cups vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
1 tablespoon brown sugar (or honey)
Splash or two of umeboshi plum vinegar (or fish sauce)
2 cups shredded kale (I used Russian kale, very tender and no tough stems to remove)
Juice of 1 lemon (or lime)
½ cup torn basil leaves (or cilantro, parsley)

Brown the meat, add garlic scapes, celeriac, eggplant, oil, and curry powder. Saute for 5 minutes. Add coconut milk, broth, brown sugar, and vinegar, and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Add kale, lemon, and basil, and simmer for another 10 minutes or until eggplant is soft. Before serving, taste for sweetness, saltiness, tang and spice; there should be a nice balance of each. You can adjust seasonings until you reach that perfect blend! Add noodles to the pan right before serving, allow them to soak up some of the sauce and heat through. Serve immediately.

Hannah Marcotti is a holistic health counselor who loves creating exciting recipes and inspiring others to get into their kitchens and cook with whole foods. Through her counseling business, Hannah’s Harvest, she hopes to create a ripple effect of health and happiness in Providence and beyond. She shares her musings on life with three children and searching for that next perfect meal on her blog, Hannah’s Harvest Thoughts.

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