If you asked me a few years ago I would have told you that I categorically do not like eggplants. The usual desi eggplant dishes – baingan ka bharta, bagharay baingan, etc. do not do it for me at all. But then, then something happened. I discovered that you actually do not have to cook it to soft mushy pulpiness. You can cook it until just tender – a magical point where eggplant pieces retain their ‘skin’ and shape and yield a creamy softness. That friends is my happy point.
This dish meets several of my requirements for something I would make again – it is quick, easy, can be made spicy, and between the eggplant and spinach it is quite healthy for you too. Today’s version was topped with some nice bright feta, but I imagine it would be delicious with some toasted pine nuts strewn on top or even some crispy fried onions.
The recipe, only mildly tweaked, is from Pretty Delicious by Candice Kumai. I have tried a few of the recipes in this book with mixed results (probably due to my own errors), but I love the premise of the book. Unlike books which tend to be low-fat or low-carb this one takes a FWB (Food With Benefits) approach to food. In a nutshell what we put in our body should nourish it. Sometimes ‘healthy’ cooking tends to focus on minimizing foods impact on us, this book tries to maximize its impact in the best way possible.
Eggplant, Mushroom, and Spinach Saute
1 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp red chilli flakes (optional)
1 large eggplant (about one lb)
6 oz button mushrooms
2 cups spinach or baby spinach
1/3 cup feta cheese
1/4 finely chopped basil
Get all your ingredients together. Remove the stems from the mushrooms and thinly slice them. Chop your spinach, if you are using baby spinach then you can leave it whole. Dice the eggplant into 1 cm cubes like below.
Whisk the lemon juice, 2 tbsp olive oil, and 1 tsp salt together in a large bowl. Add the eggplant and mushroom, toss, and set aside for half an hour.
Heat the remaining 1 tbsp of oil in a large non stick skillet over medium high heat, add chili flakes and cook for a minute. Add the eggplant and mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in the spinach and remaining 1/4 tsp salt. Once the spinach is wilted then check for seasoning.
Serve topped with feta and basil and additional lemon/lime if you like. Enjoy it as a side, as a vegetarian main over rice or on top of crostini as a snack 🙂