Our farmers market is painted with all the stunning violet and purple shades of eggplant right now. I have the hardest time choosing which eggplants to get, since they are all so different and beautiful: plump, dark ones, speckled ‘graffiti’ ones, skinny Japanese eggplants… I want to buy them all. Eggplant is definitely up there among my favorite vegetables of all time. I also know that it’s quite a polarizing one, since a lot of people don’t enjoy the flavor or find eggplant intimidating to prepare. Whenever someone tells me they don’t like eggplant, I try to point them in the direction of my marinated eggplant recipe – it’s in our latest cookbook, and it impresses seemingly everyone. Eggplant is spongy and absorbent, so marinating it transforms it into this super flavorful, velvety version of itself that seriously tastes like heaven. I also really like adding eggplant to curry or ciabotta and broiling it in the oven with a miso glaze. It has so much potential to be really delicious!
This eggplant fried rice is our latest obsession. It’s weeknight-friendly, satisfying, and full of fresh, late summer flavors.
The preparation here is quite simple. Eggplant is cooked first and separately from all the other components of the dish, because that’s how it tastes its best in my experience. After that, all the ingredients are added to the same pan in stages, building up the flavor from the bottom up. What makes the flavors pop here is the addition of a quick, ginger-lime sauce, as well as a few tablespoons of desiccated coconut, which gets nice and toasty together with the rice. Don’t be afraid of adding tons of basil here, too. It does such a great job of elevating the whole dish with its brightness. Hope you enjoy this one!
- 2½ tablespoons coconut oil - divided
- 1 large or 2 small-medium eggplants - cubed into 1" pieces
- sea salt
- 1 small yellow onion - diced
- 1 large or 2 small bell peppers or sweet peppers - sliced
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 2 garlic cloves - minced
- 1½"-2" piece of ginger - peeled if not organic
- juice from 1 large or 2 small limes
- 1 tablespoon coconut aminos or tamari
- 1 tablespoon brown rice vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon sesame oil
- 3 cups cooked white or brown basmati rice (from 1 cup dry) - preferably leftover or chilled
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened desiccated coconut, plus more for garnish
- large handful of basil - sliced
- handful of crushed toasted cashews - for garnish (optional)
- Heat up a large sauté pan over medium heat. Melt 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in the pan. Add the eggplant and sauté until soft and golden brown on all sides, about 15 minutes. Mix in a pinch of salt towards the end. Remove the eggplant from the pan to a plate or bowl and set aside. Wipe the pan clean if necessary.
- Add another 1 tablespoon of coconut oil to the pan, along with the onion, pepper, red pepper flakes, and another pinch of salt. Sauté until the onion and peppers are cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add the minced garlic and stir it around for another 30 seconds, until fragrant.
- While the vegetables are cooking, grate the ginger into a jar or a bowl through a fine strainer. Add the lime juice, coconut aminos/tamari, brown rice vinegar, and sesame oil, and stir/shake to mix.
- Once the onions and peppers are done, push them over to one side of the pan and add another ½ tablespoon of coconut oil to the empty side of the pan, letting it melt. Add the rice and desiccated coconut to the pan and mix it with the onions and peppers. Increase the heat a little bit, and let the rice and coconut toast for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Mix in the ginger-lime sauce and let it absorb for about a minute. Stir in the eggplant and let it heat through with the rest of the ingredients. Turn off the heat and stir in the basil. Taste for salt and adjust if needed. Serve the rice, garnished with toasted cashews, if using, and more desiccated coconut.