Anise-Flavored Eggplant

Eggplants in a basket

Ingredients and seasonings in this dish straddle Asian and Italian cuisines, combining eggplant with anise-flavored fennel. Serve it with rice and some green veggies, simply prepared (greens, broccoli, or broccoli rabe), and a fresh salad augmented with chickpeas. Contributed by Susan Jane Cheney.

Serves: 4

  • 1 pound (four 6- to 7-inch long) Asian eggplants
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 medium fennel bulb
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 8 large cloves garlic, minced
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium natural soy sauce or tamari
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh fennel leaves

First prepare the vegetables. Trim the ends off the eggplants and halve them lengthwise. Cut each half crosswise into thirds, then slice each piece lengthwise into thick strips. Cut the onion in half lengthwise, then cut each half into thin vertical slices. Cut the fennel into thin vertical slices about 2 inches long.

Set a stir-fry pan or wok over high heat. Add the oil and swirl it to coat the sides of the pan.  Add the onion and stir-fry about 2 minutes, until translucent. Add the fennel and garlic, then gradually add the eggplant, continuing to stir-fry several minutes longer.  Grind in black pepper.

Add the stock and tamari and bring to a simmer. Cover the wok, reduce the heat and simmer 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is thoroughly tender.  Taste and add salt and more pepper if needed. Sprinkle in the fennel leaves just before serving.

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