I made the 3rd version over the weekend for my lunch today. On top of wilted spinach with sauteed onions and toasted walnuts, it was pretty great but a little over-sweet, so I’ve adapted it below (original recipe, Option A, was from: Modern Spice by Monica Bhide). The 3rd option came out to a nice, juicy softness with a bit of firmness and just a hint of crispiness on the outside.
Mix the following ingredients in a small jar and keep stored in the fridge until you need it:
- 2 Tbsp fresh ginger root, peeled and grated to a pulp (on the small grater that looks like someone tried to punch their way out of it using a ballpoint pen)
- 1/4 cup warmed liquid honey (microwave on 1/2 power for 15 seconds, no cap!)
- 3 tsp red chili flakes, or 1 1/2 tsp good cayenne pepper
- 1 Tbsp pomegranate molasses (find at Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern stores / cafes)
- 1 Tbsp olive or peanut oil
- 1/2 tsp grated lemon/lime zest
- juice of 1/2 lemon (2 or 3 tsp)
The Other Ingredients:
- 1 medium size eggplant* sliced in 3/4″ to 1″ discs
- 1 package fresh spinach (normal salad-bag size)
- 1/2 yellow onion, chopped to 1/2″ size bits
- 2 smaller cloves garlic, or 1 big one, smashed & minced
- 2 Tbsp small-chopped walnuts
- 2 Tbsp butter
- Warmed Jalapeno bread or spicy-garlic naan (or just 2 c cooked plain rice)
Honey-Ginger Eggplant, 4 Ways:
Option A: Pan-Fried Eggplant Topped with Ginger-Honey Marinade
Softer than the other two options
Heat 6 Tbsp vegetable oil ove medium-low heat in a skillet or wok. Cover and cook, 12-14 min on each side, until soft and well-browned. When you start the 2nd side, get the spinach going (see below). Remove from pan, drain on paper towels, and drizzle with 3 Tbsp marinade.
Option B: Roasted Eggplant Topped with Ginger-Honey Marinade
Crispier than the other two options
With oven at 425° F, coat a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray or rub it with the wrappers from the butter. Lay the eggplant out side-to-side on the sheet and either drizzle with a little olive oil or spray with cooking spray. cook 20-25 min until browned & soft, rotating sheet front-to-back once. Toward last 10-12 minutes of cooking, start spinach. Place over spinach, drizzle with marinade, and
Option C: Marinaded, Pan-Seared Ginger-Honey Eggplant
Very moist and flavorful
Mix 2 extra Tbsp oil to marinade, slice the eggplant and place in 1 layer in 1 large container, or multiple small lunch containers. Drizzle with 1/2 to all of marinade. Let sit for 20 min; turn over and let sit another 20 min. Eggplant will usually lose a bunch of water. Heat a pan to medium heat and add eggplant. After about 4 min, add some of marinade / eggplant water so it bubbles up and boils away. Let sit a minute. Repeat. Keep doing this with all the eggplant, cooking the eggplant about 12-14 min per side until a nice, rich toasted brown. Continue until the marinade’s gone and the eggplant is cooked on both sides. Remove from pan; cook spinach, and serve.
Option D: Grilled Ginger-Honey Eggplant
Slice eggplant about 1″ thick and brush each side with marinade. Cook on grill at 400° F, reapplying marinade every 2 or 3 minutes. Cook about 8 minutes per side. Keep going until it looks like THIS.
Cook the Spinach:
If you chose option B, heat a skillet over medium heat. Otherwise, just use the same pan. Add minced garlic and cook, stirring, just until fragrant. Add onions (and a bit of the butter, if necessary); cook 3 minutes, then add walnuts and cook, stirring, until onions are soft and walnuts are toasted, another 3-5 minutes. Add in the rest of the butter, then all of the spinach. Overturn spinach into onion-walnut mix and keep turning / mixing until spinach is wilted and has soaked up most of the butter. Remove from heat immediately.
Serve eggplant on top of spinach, with a side of jalapeno bread, spicy naan, or plain old rice.
*Eggplant: The eggplant should be smooth and a little spongy on the outside, but springy (your fingers shouldn’t be leaving indents when you press to test it). It should be even dark-purple (pull the green leaves at the top up a bit to see how far up the purple goes — too much bright beet color suggests it’s under-ripe). Like a good melon, it should feel heavier than the others.
Leftovers: After a night in the fridge it was soft enough to become a kind of sweet curry. Iif you’re planning to reheat this thing for work I recommend cooking the onion & walnut for the spinach part beforehand but eliminating the butter and holding off on the spinach itself (microwave’s better for lunch).