This warm and filling vegetarian dish is simple to make in large batches to feed a crowd or last all week.
By Bowen Close
- 2 Tbsp. peanut, soybean, canola, grapeseed, or other neutral oil
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 Thai or other small, hot chilis, finely chopped (Or more, if desired – it always depends on the chilis, but in this case 2 Thai chilis provided a mild-to-moderate heat level. And if you can’t find nice fresh chilis, a sprinkling of spicy red pepper flakes added instead or a splash of hot sauce at the end will work just fine)
- 2-3 Tbsp. finely chopped lemongrass (this time, this meant 2 medium stalks of lemongrass – but it will really depend on the size and freshness of the lemongrass you buy – see this page and this video for great information on buying and preparing lemongrass)
- 2 green onions, roughly chopped
- 1 tsp. ground turmeric
- Around 3 cups of vegetables cut into bite-size pieces – I’ve used red peppers, green beans, mushrooms (if using white/button or creminis, quartering them is a nice way to prepare them for this), and carrots (cut into much smaller pieces so they didn’t take quite so long to cook) and they’ve all worked very well. Squash or sweet potatoes would be interesting (roast or bake until firm but edible, and add at the same time as the eggplant), as would strips of cabbage or leafy greens. In the case of the pictures here, I used two large red peppers.
- Around 2 lbs. eggplant (in this case, 3 medium eggplants), ends trimmed and remainder cut into large bite-size pieces
- 1 15-oz. can of tomatoes (whole, diced, or crushed) with its juices OR 2-3 juicy ripe tomatoes, quartered, plus 1 cup water
- ¼ cup fish sauce
- 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
- Roughly chopped cilantro and/or basil, for serving
- Jasmine or other rice, for serving
- Sauté the flavor base: In a large, wide sauté pan or pot that has a cover, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chopped garlic and hot chilis, and stir until fragrant, around one or two minutes. Add the chopped scallions and lemongrass and stir until fragrant, another minute or two. Add the turmeric and stir until incorporated.
- Add vegetables: Add your non-eggplant vegetables and cook until starting to become tender (for the red peppers, this meant about 5 minutes). Add the tomatoes and their juices (canned tomatoes) or water (fresh tomatoes) and the diced eggplant and stir/toss to combine.
- Add sauce and braise: Pour the fish sauce and sprinkle the brown sugar over the ingredients and stir/toss to combine. Lower the heat to medium-low, cover the pan, and cook for at least 15-20 minutes, or until the eggplant and all other ingredients are cooked through and tender. (Many of the pieces of eggplant should slump into the sauce, though some may retain their shape well.) Check the pan every 5 minutes to check on moisture – if the pan is looking fairly dry and things are sticking, add a few tablespoons of water. If things are looking a little soupy within five minutes or so of the end of the cooking time, remove the lid and continue cooking to let moisture escape.
- Serve and garnish: Serve the braised vegetables over rice or as desired, garnishing with roughly chopped cilantro and/or basil.
Bowen Close believes that food should make people happy and healthy, and loves bringing together people with creative, delicious food made from the heart. She loves making farm-inspired, flavorful dishes with sustainable ingredients - whether that's a big plate of roasted veggies, a towering chocolate layer cake, or a cocktail utilizing backyard ingredients - and collects recipes and other food-related stories on her website, Bowen Appétit. She is a chef, cooking instructor, and food writer living in Southern California with her husband and fully stocked pantry.