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.
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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?
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