Roast Eggplant du Stella


The inspiration: Holly Basil Eggplant at Maiko.

A few weeks ago I happened upon a delicious eggplant dish at the Japanese restaurant Maiko in downtown Austin. It was called “Holly Basil Eggplant” and, far as I could discern, contained eggplant roasted in oil and a little molasses, with serrano peppers, whole wilted basil leaves, and garlic, topped with crunchy rice noodles on top.

I bought an eggplant at the grocery store last weekend, and have been trying to decide what to do with it. Then I had an idea–one of those ideas that would either be brilliant or laughably terrible: I would try to approximate the roast eggplant I had enjoyed at Maiko.

Of course, I didn’t have all the same ingredients, but I threw in what sounded good:

one large eggplant, prepared and cubed
one jalapeño, sliced thiny
five or six fresh leaves of basil, roughly shredded
1/8 cup crushed pecans (or walnuts)
1/8 cup olive oil
1/4 cup maple syrup

1. In a medium-sized baking dish, mix eggplant, jalapeño, olive oil, and maple syrup, folding until each piece has been covered in liquid. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350° F, stirring once or twice to prevent drying of eggplant.

2. Add basil and pecans and return to oven for 10 minutes.

3. Stir and serve.

The result is a very aromatic, sweet eggplant dish, with the occasional, unexpected bite of heat, and crunchiness added by the nuts. I will be making this again.

My eggplant-hating friend said, “This is the best eggplant I have ever had, I’ll have to tell my mom, because she could never get me to eat it. But this is good!” She even ate two servings.

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