While my return trip to St. Augustine has required ample rerouting of plans, the past week in the oldest city has been filled with blissful reunitings, welcomed opportunities, and delicious eats.
Immediately upon my arrival, I returned to two local eateries I especially adore—The Floridian for a Saturday night dinner date, and Manatee Café for Sunday brunch. I’ve also gotten back into a joint cooking jive with my boyfriend Andrew.
We decided to play around with a vibrant, mega-sized eggplant he bought down the street at his neighborhood produce stand. We both love eggplant and couldn’t recall the last time we had eaten it, which is a shame, considering it’s delicious and packed with phytonutrients that aid in blood flow, along with fiber and powerful antioxidants.
We knew we didn’t want to simply try and recreate a more typical eggplant dish. Instead, we wanted to create something different. We wanted to create something memorable. We wanted to create something that did this mighty eggplant justice.
So, what exactly did we create?
In less than an hour’s time, we created crispy chia-coated eggplant, paired with sauced tomatoes and quinoa, served alongside a bed of spring mix.
Sauced Tomatoes (Prep + Cook Time: 30 Minutes)
Since the sauced tomatoes demand the most time, you will want to get this started first.
- 3 tomatoes (chopped and mashed)
- 2 ounces Mozzarella Teese
- 1 Tbsp. chopped garlic
- ½ cup chopped mushrooms
- 1 squirt of Sriracha (optional)
- Pinch of rosemary, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper
Ingredient Note: Teese is one of our most recent vegan cheese favorites. Teese’s topnotch taste and texture might cause you to have a hard time putting it down. I’ve quickly developed an issue with controlling myself around Teese.
Place chopped tomatoes in small dish on stovetop and mash. Heat on high, allowing tomatoes to reduce down. Add in the mushrooms and spices and lower heat to simmer for approximately 20 minutes. Melt in Teese last.
If you are in a pinch for time and would rather skip making your own sauce, a jar can be used instead. Just remember, look for an option with the fewest ingredients, and no added sugar.
Quinoa (Cook Time: 20 minutes)
Combine 1 cup quinoa with 2 cups water in pan on stovetop and bring to boil. Simmer on low/medium heat for 15-20 minutes or until water has completely cooked out and quinoa has softened. This amount of quinoa readily serves 2-4 persons.
While checking in on the quinoa and sauced tomatoes intermittently, it’s time to get the eggplant going.
Chia-Coated Eggplant (Prep + Cook Time: 20 minutes)
INGREDIENTS + EGGPLANT PREP
The main ingredient in this dish is, of course, the eggplant. Peeling the eggplant is optional. Andrew peeled it halfway, in stripes. Leaving at least some of the peeling intact gives you an extra dose of powerful antioxidants.
Once peeled (or not), cut eggplant into ½ inch slices. Quantity Note: We used 9 slices (approximately half of the eggplant). The batter and coating quantities listed below can be doubled if preparing the entire eggplant to serve 4-6 persons.
Wet Batter (Bowl #1):
- ¼ cup vanilla almond milk (we used vanilla since it’s what we had on hand)
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast flakes
- 2 Tbsp. Grapeseed Vegenaise
Dry Coating (Bowl #2):
- ¼ cup chia seeds
- ¼ cup whole oats
- ¼ cup almond flour
Whisk the wet batter ingredients together in Bowl #1, until a soupy consistency is reached. The Vegenaise is used to give the batter a bit of stickiness, while the nutritional yeast thickens it.
Next, mix together dry coating ingredients in Bowl #2.
Dip each slice of eggplant in the wet batter first, covering each side thoroughly, immediately followed by the dry coating.
Andrew Tip: Drip the wet batter off of each slice before placing in the dry coating to avoid clumping.
Place coated eggplant slices in lightly greased pan on stovetop. Depending on the size of your pan, cook 2-4 pieces at a time on medium/high heat for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until crispy on the outside, and tender on the inside. Once cooked, remove slices from pan and allow time to cool so you don’t burn your mouth with excitement.
Confession: I must admit, I was initially hesitant about Andrew’s choice to use chia seeds as the foundation for the dry coating but we were both beyond pleased with the outcome. Thanks to the chia seeds, not only is this coating super light and crispy, it’s nutritionally super—packed with abundant antioxidants and endurance-boosting properties.
For our finished plates, the eggplant slices were stacked three layers high, with thin pieces of Teese used to separate the top two layers. The sauced tomatoes were poured over both the quinoa and eggplant. A side of spring mix was served with Annie’s Goddess dressing.
Since it surprisingly wasn’t storming or 90 degrees outside at dinnertime, we decided to take this meal to the back deck to enjoy a hint of summer breeze.
NOT QUITE SECONDS
We didn’t exactly end up with seconds; however, remember the remaining half of the eggplant slices I mentioned saving? Well, I decided to cook them up yesterday to go in our lunch salads. I also used this as an opportunity to record our process in order to share this recipe, since the first time around was a total experiment.
Yesterday’s salads consisted of spring mix topped with chopped onion, tomatoes, and avocado. Slices of chia-coated eggplant were placed on top, and dusted with a light layer of Daiya shreds, and a special touch of Sriracha.
Since we can’t seem to get enough Goddess dressing right now, this once again served as our dressing pick. Speaking of dressing, I’ve been itching to step up my game and start making my own dressings to keep jarred and ready. Stay tuned!
As a result of this week’s successful eggplant experimentations, I have decided chia-coated eggplant is something that I’ll be cooking up at least once a week during eggplant season (now – October). Since I am also a huge lover of Baba Ghanoush, you can expect to see that on the blog in the near future. Basically, eggplant all around.
For now, I leave you with the most irresistible fawn Doberman. This guy watched us cook yesterday from outside the window.