I was once asked about what foods I disliked as a kid that I now could not live without and I immediately thought of yellow mustard. Its vinegary smell was off-putting to me, and there was always that gross crust and water that came out of the bottle before you even got to the mustard. Fast-forward quite a few years later, and probably around my mid-to-late 20’s I didn’t think anything could compare to good old yellow mustard on things like warm and plump hot dogs or in chunky and creamy homestyle potato salad. I’m happy to report, my taste buds have grown up enough since then to appreciate all sorts of mustards, not just the taxi cab yellow kind, and I’ve gotten a lot smarter about shaking the bottle so my mustard is pretty perfect every time.
I like that our taste buds continue to evolve because I’ve had some unfortunate and unpleasant run-ins with eggplant. I once made a beautiful layered eggplant terrine with goat cheese and roasted peppers that was so bitter I had to throw the whole thing out. I followed the recipe to the letter, including salting the eggplant, but it was just not meant to be. It’s only been years later that I’ve come to discover all the varieties of eggplant and how to season it and bring out its meaty, mellow sweetness by the various cooking methods I use. I’ve found that the smaller, thinner eggplant cook up deliciously with just a touch of seasoning and a quick sear on the grill or under the broiler or in a hot cast iron pan. The Vegetarian keeps egging me to come over “to the dark side” whenever I praise some vegetable and throw together a new recipe that’s meatless. I think I probably love him a bit more than eggplant, so pretty sure our carnivore-herbivore relationship won’t be changing anytime soon.
For this recipe, it's helpful to prep and have all the ingredients ready to go so assembly comes together more quickly.
- 13 small Indian eggplant, about 1 1/2 pounds, trimmed and sliced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 7 Tablespoons soy sauce, divided
- 1 pound green beans, trimmed and chopped into 1 1/2" pieces
- 8 oz of your favorite quick cooking noodles (ramen, soba, rice)
- 6 Tablespoons canola oil
- 3 Tablespoons sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 cups chopped cilantro
- Black and white sesame seeds for garnish, optional
- Remove stems and slice eggplant into 1/4" coins. Toss in a large mixing bowl along with garlic and 4 tablespoons of soy sauce. Get your hands in there and mix everything around.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, along with 3 Tablespoons of canola oil. When oil has warmed, add a single layer of eggplant to the pan, cooking about 1 minute per side or until eggplant browns and softens. Add additional oil if pan becomes dry. Be careful with splatter from pan. (I find a cast iron or non-stick skillet work well for browning eggplant).
- Return eggplant to mixing bowl and toss with any remaining marinade.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. When boiling, blanch green beans for 1-2 minutes or until bright green and still crisp. DO NOT THROW OUT HOT WATER! Use a slotted spoon to drain beans and keep water to boil noodles.
- Add noodles and cook according to package.
- Add sesame oil, salt and lemon juice to green beans.
- When noodles are done, add remaining 3 tablespoons of soy sauce and cilantro.
- Serve noodles topped with eggplant and green beans. Garnish with sesame seeds.
If you don't want to saute or pan fry the eggplant, you could also broil it in the oven.