Happy Monday! Truly, there is much rejoicing to do!! If you're an Eagles fan, then congrats to you. If you're an Olympics fan (and how can you not be) then how excited are you that it starts in only 3 days?!!! If you're my middle guy, you're leaving for New Zealand and Australia for a dream semester abroad. And if you're me, you are once again reveling in the magic of food, because baby, these tastebuds are back in action!!! And just in time, 'cause this veggie stir fry, chock full of eggplant and peppers all coated in a light but very flavorful, Thai-inspired, garlic-basil sauce, is one of my favorites. So much happiness! And all on a Monday morning😊😊😊
Gotta say, I do love a good stir fry. And while they require a bit of prep work, they're perfect for busy nights because the actual cooking time is usually pretty minimal. If I know I'm going to be pressed for time, I'll often chop up my veggies or make the sauce ahead of time and keep it in the fridge until dinner.
If you want to keep this totally vegetarian, you can either buy a fish sauce substitute for the sauce or easily make your own, which lasts a couple of months in the fridge.
The eggplant gets deliciously tender and soaks up the sweet and sour sauce, with the red pepper adding a bright splash of color and crunch.
Put on a pot of rice just before you start to cook and in 20 minutes you'll have yourself a super tasty, light and nutritious meal that'll help to undo some of the excesses of the past weekend. Pretty good start for a Monday, no? Told you there was a lot to be happy about!!
Thai-Style Stir-Fried Eggplant with Garlic-Basil Sauce
Makes 4 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
For the vegetarian fish sauce
- 3 cups water
- 3 tablespoons salt
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- ¼ ounce dried sliced shiitake mushrooms
For the garlic-basil sauce
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup fish sauce substitute
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
- 2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1-2 shakes red pepper flakes
For the stir-fry
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, divided
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 large eggplant cut into medium cubes, unpeeled
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into bite-sized pieces
- ½ cup fresh basil leaves, turn into pieces
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
1. To make the vegetarian fish sauce: place all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until mixture is reduced by half. Strain liquid through a fine mesh sieve and cool completely. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two months.
2. For the garlic-basil sauce: place all the ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk together well. You can definitely make this ahead and store covered in the fridge.
3. For the stir-fry: In a small bowl, mix together the 1 teaspoon of oil and the garlic and set aside. Heat the remaining oil in a large skillet over high heat until very hot. Add in the eggplant and red pepper and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring often, until tender and browned.
4. Push the veggies to the side, creating an open space in the center of the skillet. Pour the garlic mixture into the space and mash it down a bit with the back of a spoon, letting it cool for 30 seconds or so. Then stir it into the veggies. If you've refrigerated the sauce, give it a good whisk to recombine (you can do this anyway even if you didn't make it earlier) and pour into the veggie mixture. Stir well and cook for another minute or so, until the sauce begins to thicken. Remove from the heat, stir in the basil and scallions and serve immediately. Rice is not mandatory but what's a stir-fry without it?!!
Note: Recipe adapted from Cook's All-Time Best Sunday Suppers. I tinkered with proportions and left out the ginger because we're not big fans of it. The fish sauce substitute is a dream to make and have on hand. I highly recommend it!