I love aubergine. Unfortunately my husband can’t stand them. He’s very tolerant of my plant-based experiments, but sadly aubergine is his red line that can’t be crossed! Which is not too much of a problem as there are so many other delicious plant-based foods to play with. Plus he’s often away, so aubergine becomes my indulgence when he’s on his travels.
He’s not the only one who can’t or won’t tolerate aubergine. Some people find it too bitter (although this is much less of a problem now than in the past as cross-breeding has removed much of the bitterness) whilst others can’t stand the texture, particularly when it’s over-soft and mushy. Then there are those who are sensitive to produce from the night-shade family which includes aubergines.
If you don’t fall into any of those categories, then hopefully you are an aubergine fan like me, and will just love this simple but super tasty sticky ginger and garlic recipe.
Have you noticed that many aubergine involve frying in a lot of oil? Not my one. A whole-food plant-based diet avoids frying with oil; fats are obtained in their whole form, like in the cashew nuts included in this recipe. Aubergine in particular absorbs whatever fluid its cooked in, including whichever oil is used. Not only can this make it greasy, but the heated refined oils can be harmful to health.
Careful frying in small amounts of water in a good non-stick pan avoids the use of oil and still helps the flesh brown and the natural sugars caramelise. Frying in water is a bit of an art form though – I’ll be posting a video about it soon. The key is cook on a medium heat and add small amounts of extra water to deglaze the pan as you go along – this stops it sticking and keeps the lovely caramelised flavours.
As well as flavour, there are a whole host of lovely nutrients in this dish, including some powerful anti-oxidants in broccoli and onion as well as the purple phytonutrients in the aubergine skin. Then there’s some healthy whole fats in the nuts and sesame seeds plus some gorgeous fibre to help keep your microbiome well fed too.
But of course the most important thing about this recipe is the flavour. – It is utterly delicious – sweet and sour with a little kick from the ginger. If you fancy a little more spice, add some fresh red chilli too.
I serve this with some rice noodles and stir fried fresh greens, but it works just as well with rice or quinoa, or any other grain you have to hand – the noodles are the quickest for a fast mid-week supper. If you give this a go, do let me know how you get on – just don’t waste it on the aubergine haters!
Sticky ginger-garlic aubergine
- 1/2 medium red or white onion sliced
- 1 medium aubergine cut into large dice
- 1/2 medium head broccoli cut into small florets
- 2 tablespoons cashew nuts toasted
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds (optional)
For the sauce
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons tamari
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 fat clove of garlic crushed
- 2 cm piece fresh ginger
- 1 heaped tablespoon cornflour or arrowroot
- Heat a couple of tablespoons of water in a large non-stick pan and sauté the onion for a couple of minutes. Add the aubergine and cook for another couple of minutes, then add the broccoli. Pop on the lid, reduce the heat and simmer for another 5 minutes until the veg start to soften.
- Place all the sauce ingredients into the jug of a high-speed blender and blitz to smooth (a little texture is ok). Pour over the veggies in the pan and stir to make sure everything is coated.
- Bring to boiling point, then reduce the heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes until the sauce becomes glossy and thick – stir a couple of times to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Add the cashew nuts and cook for another minute, then serve garnished with sesame seeds (if using).