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Friday
Aug102012

Microwave-Steamed Eggplant for Pizza, Sauces, Stir-Fries

Steam eggplant for a fat-free, silky pizza topping or to enrich stir-fries, tomato sauces, and many other dishes.

I started playing with this idea when my friend Laura told me a trick she'd learned from one of our favorite cookbook writers, Madhur Jaffrey: steam the eggplant before stir-frying. Madhur roll-cuts her eggplant then steams it in a wok for 15 to 17 minutes.

With my faster, greener, less authentic recipe, you cut the eggplant into smaller cubes and microwave it for only 5 minutes. You also save calories and money by avoiding the oil needed to fry it, sauté it, or even grill it. Then just toss in in a sauce, like the Spicy Peanut Sauce shown below, and you have a restaurant-quality dish that's good for you and your budget.

microwaved steamed eggplant tossed with Spicy Peanut Sauce and topped with basil

It's a terrific choice for Meatless Mondays. If not everyone at the table loves eggplant, this technique makes it easy to divide and delight. Eggplant lovers like me who rarely cook it because of the trouble involved can now enjoy it even on a busy weeknight. Eggplant sceptics who have only had heavy, even greasy breaded and fried eggplant may reconsider once they try a bite.

Steamed Eggplant

Active time: 5 minutes. Total time: 12 minutes. 4 servings. Oil free, vegan.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound eggplant (454 grams)

Method

  1. Use a sharp knife or vegetable peeler to peel eggplant, then cut into half-inch cubes.

    sliced and cubed raw eggplant

  2. Put eggplant into a microwave-safe container, cover, and cook on high for about five minutes. Leave the cover on while it finishes steaming for two more minutes.
  3. Stir eggplant and test a few cubes for doneness. They should all be fork-tender. If you're not sure, steam it a little more. Undercooked eggplant is rubbery.

    plain eggplant cubes cooked in a microwave

  4. Steamed eggplant isn't a solo act, but enhances many saucy recipes. Try it with a few shots of your favorite hot sauce or use steamed eggplant in these recipes from Wildly Affordable Organic:
    • In Good Tomato Sauce (page 171) or Tomato Sauce with Bell Peppers and Onions (page 172)
    • With Spicy Peanut Sauce (page 175), either with other seasonal vegetables and noodles or solo over rice
    • As a pizza topping (page 187) for Pizza (page 183) or Speedy Grilled Pizza (page 189)

Tips and Notes

  • To steam eggplant on the stove top: put about a half-inch of water in a medium pot, a steamer basket in the pot, and the eggplant cubes in the steamer. Cover the pot, bring the water to a boil over high heat, and then reduce heat so water stays at a low boil. Steam for four minutes, then turn off heat but leave pot on the hot burner for three more minutes.

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