spicy eggplant + tomato curry with lime-cilantro jasmine rice

This dish incorporates a staple summer vegetable with a tangy, hearty twist on a traditional curry.

Bonus: it's easy and takes just about 30 minutes before the final product is piping hot on your dinner table.

Over the past couple of months I have been working on a really cool project submitting recipes to a San Francisco + Boston based start-up called PlateJoy. I recently became part of the recipe development team! I create ideas for 4 recipes per round (snack/breakfast/lunch/dinner), then cook the food, submit the recipe, and voila! It's added to their collection. 

The start-up focuses on quick, healthy meals for someone with a busy schedule to prepare after work or over the weekend. My latest submission relies solely on "accidentally vegan" ingredients, meaning no dairy substitutions or food advertised as "veganlicious" but still creating a filling meal with real stuff. 

So, this eggplant dish is part of my current series. I find that I eat totally accidentally vegan as easily as I can devour a huge plate of ribs. Sometimes it just happens that you want a full plate of cooked vegetables with hot sauce and some quinoa or beans or whatever (*cough* how my roommates eat 24/7). And if you're not vegan, sometimes it just happens that you eat an entire rack of ribs without an ounce of regret. It is summertime after all.

This is obviously a bit more planned, but the flavors come together so quickly that it can be the slam-dunk at your next dinner party or get together.

When shopping for eggplant at the market or farm stand look for ones that are heavy in weight with tight, unbruised skin -- always steer clear of eggplants with soft or wrinkled spots.

I always sprinkle salt all over the cut eggplant, allowing it to sit + perspire for 5-10 minutes dehydrating the flesh. This takes away any bitter flavors and quickens cooking time.

spicy tomato + eggplant curry with lime brown jasmine rice

Serves 4

Ingredients:

3-4 medium sized eggplants (any variety), sliced in quarters lengthwise + diced in 1/2 inch pieces

1 - 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes

1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp red curry paste

2 tbsp rice vinegar

1/2-1 tsp crushed red chili flakes

salt

for the rice:

1 cup dry brown jasmine rice*

1 tbsp rice vinegar

2 cups water

juice of 1 lime, freshly squeezed

1/2 tsp salt

*You can really use any grain for this dish that you like or have in the pantry. E.g., white rice, basmati rice, cous cous, quinoa, etc.

Directions:

Dehydrate the eggplant by generously pouring salt all over the flesh of chopped pieces. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes then press liquid with paper towel trying to soak up the perspiration.

While the eggplant dehydrate, heat 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil  in a large sauce pan or dutch oven. Add the chopped onion and cook until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and lemongrass and cook for an additional 1 minute. Add the eggplant and continue to cook for 5 minutes until browned. Add the red curry paste and stir until evenly distributed among the vegetables. Cook for about 2 more minutes, then stir in the crushed tomatoes, rice vinegar, and chili flakes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until eggplant is softened to your liking.

Meanwhile, cook your rice according to the package and also add 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar + a dash of salt. When the rice finished cooking, squeeze the lime juice + fluff with a fork. Serve with fresh cilantro.

Enjoy the curry over the rice!