What to Do with Extra Eggplant?

A Story and Recipe

Eggplant is such a rich vegetable.  I only need one, maybe two each month to be satisfied.  So it was concerning when my vegetable box showed up with a HUGE eggplant.  Just half  was plenty for the tomato and fennel stew I had planned.  So what about the other half, which I had already peeled?

To begin with, I found that by wrapping it tightly in (recycled) plastic wrap, it stayed quite nicely in the frig, without browning or turning to slime.  That gave me some breathing room.

A couple days later, while demonstrating vegetables and talking about the Vegetable-a-Month club at a health fair, one gentleman shared the startling fact that something like 18 million tons of eggplant are grown in China each year.  I didn’t even try, or need, to translate that number into pounds to get the point:  These folks know a thing or two about eggplant, so when struggling with a surfeit of eggplant, think Chinese.

Typical of me, I thought Chinese but also quick.  So this recipe is more along the lines of fast Chinese flavors than authentic Chinese cooking.  It also, handily, made use of some leftover hamburger and took advantage of the pot of brown rice that is always good to have on hand (click link for cooking tips and instructions.)

Hamburger Eggplant Skillet with Chinese Flavors

  • 1/2 lb. hamburger (or up to 1 lb. if you’re not relying on leftovers)
  • 1 lrg. onion, diced to 1/2″
  • 1/2 lrg. eggplant (or 1 med. eggplant, if you’re buying fresh), peeled and diced into 1″ cubes
  • 1- 2 tsp. minced garlic (from a jar), to taste
  • 1-2 tsp. minced ginger (from a jar), to taste
  • 1 1/2 -2 Tbsp. black bean garlic sauce (I use Lee Kum Kee)
  • 28-oz. can diced tomatoes, with juices (Muir Glen are my favorites–lots of flavor)
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2-3 cups cooked brown rice

In a large saute pan, begin browning the hamburger, breaking it into small pieces with the end of spatula.  Once there is a little fat from the hamburger, stir in onions and cook a couple minutes, then add eggplant and cook about five more minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add garlic and ginger and cook two more minutes.  Add black bean sauce and tomatoes and stir to combine thoroughly.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer 5-10 minutes until eggplant is cooked but not mushy.  Sprinkle with pepper and serve over warmed rice.  (Note, you should not need any salt since the black bean sauce is quite salty.)

Leftovers:  If you have leftovers, freshen them up with lightly cooked, bright green peas (from frozen.)

Want more fun facts, interesting lore and easy recipes for vegetables?  Check out the Vegetable-a-Month club.

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