In the summer months, eggplant becomes the go-to meat replacement for many vegetarians. We slice it into thick rounds and grill it up like a burger, we roast it and turn it into a batch of homemade eggplant meatballs, and we even make veggie bacon with it. So, recently when I saw Steamy Kitchen’s recipe for stuffed miso eggplant filled with a mixture of ground beef and chopped eggplant, it made me wonder what other ingredients I could use to replace the meat. Eggplant would have been my first choice for a meat substitute, but a double eggplant filling just wasn’t going to work.
Some might turn to tofu or maybe even mushrooms to replace the meat, but I have a secret weapon in the kitchen that I use in instances like this: raw walnuts! Just like when I made Asian lettuce wraps a while back, the walnuts in this dish really give that meaty texture to the stuffing. And because walnuts have a mild flavor, they just take on the taste of the seasonings in the dish.
These beautiful Japanese eggplant boats are stuffed with sauteed onion, eggplant, garlic, and walnuts that are seasoned with yellow miso, mirin, and tamari. I decided to add an extra layer of flavor and pile a fresh salad of tomatoes, green onions, and Thai basil on top, along with a drizzle of homemade miso dressing. The salad is totally optional, but it really takes this dish from delicious to spectacular; plus, who doesn’t love a little pop of color on their plate?
For the eggplant:
For the miso dressing:
For the tomato salad:
Make the stuffed eggplant:
Make the dressing:
Make the salad:
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