In addition to No Cucumber Left Behind and the not yet mentioned Tomato Mania of 2010, we are also involved in the Eggplant Explosion up in here this summer. As I have mentioned previously, Adam and I signed up for a CSA share at the beginning of the summer and so every Friday we receive a burgeoning bevy of delicious summer produce.
I am somewhat relieved to admit we made it through the Beet Bonanza portion of the summer, wherein we struggled to use the beets as fast as we received them. Pickled. Roasted. Boiled. Grated Raw. What is up? I was not too sad to see those phase out as July turned to August and for radishes and broccoli to phase in.
Ever abundant no matter the date is Zucchini, Squash and the glorious Aubergine (Eggplant! But it's so much more fun to say aubergine, no?). The Zucchini and Squash I have down. Sauteed with a little salt and pepper. Grilled. Stuffed. I made enough Zucchini bread to feed a small nation this weekend and some to die for Squash Fritters (recipe posted earlier this week).
But the Eggplant I have had to do some research on. I did a lovely Eggplant Parm a few weeks ago. And of course given my new hookup for cheap tahini (Locals, the Iraqi food store across from KFC on Hancock in Quincy has super cheap Middle Eastern food including to die for fresh Pitas!) Baba Ghanouj is in the mix as well. But to be honest I haven't cooked Eggplant that often so I find myself trolling for recipes.
I was sure of a few things. I didn't want to bread it and I wanted it to be SPICY. Enter one Spicy Szechuan Eggplant Recipe from AllRecipes.com. I followed the recipe to the tee, except I switched out the ground beef for yours and my favorite fake meat Gimme Lean! And instead of chili sauce I used some Thai Chili Paste I had in the fridge. Because you know you always end up with things like because you buy a 6 oz jar to use in a recipe....and the recipe only calls for 1/2 a teaspoon so you have it in your fridge FOREVER. I am trying to use that shiz up.
Anyway what can I say about this dish? Its spicy but not TOO spicy. It's texturally stimulating between the spongy eggplant and ground (faux) beef and shrimp. It's visually delightful. I like that the sauce is spicy and rich but somehow light enough that it doesnt mask the flavors of the induvidual ingredients. And you know what if you dont want to use the protein I used, use what you like! Chicken would be lovely. I'm sure tofu would be delightful. Just don't nix the eggplant since it really is the star of this dish!
I also want to mention that whenever I cook Szechuan I think of that scene in Grumpy Old Men when Ann Margaret breaks into Jack Lemmon's house to make him dinner and when he is like what the hell? She informs him "I'm cooking Szechuan" as she coquettishly adds spicy red chiles to her pan.
But maybe that's just me!