Smoky Eggplant and Zucchini Curry

Charring the eggplant’s skin delivers a smoky element to this Indian-inspired curry, with simple ingredients and a lot of taste. Add additional spices if you like your curry flavor more intense. Serve with Basmati rice or naan.

Smoky Eggplant and Zucchini Curry

1 large eggplant
2 tablespoons (30mL) extra-virgin olive oil
2 small yellow, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 serrano chiles, minced (optional)
1 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 3/4 teaspoon garam masala
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 zucchini, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
Fine sea or Himalayan salt to taste
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Pierce the eggplant about 10 times with a sharp knife and put it on a baking sheet. Broil, turning about every 7 minutes, until skin is blistered. Put the eggplant in a bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let steam for about 5 minutes to loosen the skin of the eggplant. Remove the lid and let cool.

Heat the oil over medium-high head in a small saucepan or deep skillet. Add the onion and cook until starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, chiles (if using), and the ginger. Cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in the garam masala, cumin, turmeric, and cinnamon. Add the zucchini and continue to cook until it begins to soften, about 6 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes and add a few dashes of salt, and reduce to medium-low heat. Peel the skin from the eggplant (it will easily come loose), then coarsely chop the eggplant and add it to the pot.

Let simmer, stirring infrequently, for 20 minutes. Season with additional salt (and spices, if desired), to taste. Stir in cilantro before serving.

Tofu “Ricotta” Stuffed Eggplant Rolls

Making ricotta-like filling is one of my favorite ways to use tofu. I often prepare it and use it in lasagna, shell noodles, peppers, portabellos and, here, eggplant. A vegan version of eggplant rollatini, this is a perfect primer for those who are new to trying tofu.

eggplant rollatini

Tofu Ricotta-Stuffed Eggplant Rolls

2 to 3 large eggplant, sliced about 1/4-inch thick lengthwise (8 slices in total)
Olive oil
1 batch tofu “ricotta” (below)
About 4 cups (960mL) your favorite marinara sauce (I use a homemade version with lots of chunky vegetables)

Preheat the oven to 425F. Put the eggplant on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake for about 8 to 12 minutes until softened. Remove from oven and set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 375F.

Put a small scoop of the tofu “ricotta” on one end of each of the 8 slices of eggplant. Roll each securely, then place in a baking dish that will fit them all snuggly (such as an 8-inch square). Top with the marinara. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until eggplant is tender and sauce is bubbling. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Tofu “Ricotta”

1 (350g) package extra-firm tofu, drained
2 tablespoons (30mL) nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon (15mL) cashew butter
1 tablespoon (15mL) lemon juice, plus more to taste
2 teaspoon (10mL) Italian seasoning
1/8 teaspoon (1mL) onion powder
1/8 teaspoon (1mL) garlic powder, plus more to taste
Sea or Himalayan salt to taste
Fresh ground pepper to taste

Put all ingredients in the food processor. Pulse until well combined. This can be made up to 2 days in advance. If using immediately, test for seasoning after pulsing. If you’re making it in advance, test for seasoning before using.

Imam Bayildi (Turkish Stuffed Eggplant)

The name of this famous Turkish meze dish literally means “the Imam fainted” or “the Imam was thrilled;” I’ve read it is because of the liberal amount of olive oil used. Often served room temperature or cold, this dish is delicious served hot, too. Some versions of this recipe use different herbs; others bake it; and some cook the filling, first. I like this version because it’s easy to put together and benefits from the slow cooking on the stove top.

eggplant imam

Imam Bayildi (Turkish Stuffed Eggplant)

2 large eggplants, halved lengthwise
1 yellow onion, finely sliced
3 large tomatoes, finely chopped
4 to 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small handful each: fresh flat-leaf parsley, fresh dill, fresh basil
1 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
1/2 to 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 to 1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon unrefined sugar or agave nectar
1 lemon

Use a sharp knife to remove a shallow amount of the innards of the eggplant. You don’t want to scoop it all out, but instead create a shallow indent for the filling to have somewhere to sit.

Finely chop the part you scooped out, and put in a mixing bowl.

Put the eggplant in a wide saucepan with a lid, skin-side down. Sprinkle with salt.

Add the onion, tomatoes, garlic, parsley, dill, basil and salt to the eggplant innards. Mix well, adding salt to taste.

In a small bowl, mix the oil and water. If you are wary about using 3/4 cup of oil, use 1/2 cup oil and 1/2 cup water. If not, use 3/4 cup oil and 1/4 cup water. Either way, it will total one cup.

Mix in the sugar. Drizzle the mixture over the eggplant and into the bottom of the skillet. Distribute the filling onto the eggplant halves.

Cover and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, basting every 20 to 30 minutes. Let cool in skillet.

Squeeze with lemon juice and serve room temperature.