eggplant rice bowl

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In the midst of all this holiday cooking and baking, you may be looking for something healthy to serve your family. I love comfort food as much as anyone else, but I love healthy food even more because of how good it makes me feel. Balance is always key.

You may have already guessed that I love grain bowls and they’re definitely a go-to dinner item in our home. I love how many different combinations there are out there. You really never need make the same bowl twice, unless, of course, you want to.

I was given some fresh garden eggplants a few weeks back and decided to create a fun, pretty bowl with them.

This bowl features rice or noodles, stir-fried eggplant, and air fried tofu. It’s all topped with a yummy, smoky, spicy almond butter sauce that will knock your socks off. Ready?

Make brown or white rice (or noodles) ahead of time, according to package directions.

for the tofu:

1 block extra firm tofu, pressed

a few Tablespoons vegan mayonnaise, to coat

cornstarch, to coat

garlic powder, salt, and pepper

Cut prepared tofu into cubes or little triangles. Toss them in the mayonnaise to lightly coat, making sure all sides are covered. Combine cornstarch with a little garlic powder, salt, and pepper, and dredge each tofu piece. Place tofu (in batches) in a single layer in air fryer basket. Air fry on 360 for 4 to 5 minutes, checking so the pieces don’t burn. Once golden, flip and repeat for another few minutes. You want your tofu to be hot all the way through and an even, golden brown all over. Cover and set aside.

for the sauce:

1 Tablespoon dark sesame oil

3 Tablespoons creamy almond butter

1 Tablespoon light soy sauce (lower sodium)

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon or lime juice

2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup or agave syrup

1 Tablespoon Sriracha

1 Tablespoon smoky sweet BBQ sauce

1 clove garlic, minced

Whisk all in a bowl. Cover and set aside.

For the eggplant:

3 small eggplant, cut into small cubes

1 small onion, cut in half and sliced

1 small green bell pepper

In a large, heavy skillet over medium heat, add 1 Tablespoon olive oil and 1 Tablespoon sesame oil. Once hot, add eggplant, onion, and pepper. Drizzle with a little pure maple syrup or agave, and soy sauce. Saute, stirring frequently, for a few minutes until browned on all sides.

Assemble bowls by adding some rice or noodles to each, followed by the tofu and veggies. Drizzle some sauce over, and then top with cashews, sesame seeds, sweet-hot pickles (we love “Wickles”) and a garnish of Thai basil, if you wish. So delicious!

~serves 4

Enjoy!

~Melissa

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