Cate at SweetNicks hosts a weekly food blogging event called ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday, which focuses on bringing more Antioxidant-Rich Foods (ARFs) to your dining table every day. I always work to incorporate at least one vegetable side dish or main course to all of our dinners, but I've never submitted a recipe...until now.
I did some homework on today's three main ingredients--escarole, eggplant, and cremini mushrooms--and I was happy to find that each is a source of one or more vital antioxidants. As we should all know by now, antioxidant-rich foods are thought to slow the chemical process of oxidation, which can lead to cholesterol deposits, the narrowing of arteries, and other various heart-related problems. The best way to add antioxidants to your diet is not through vitamin supplements, but through the many delicious fruits and vegetables they are found in.
This is a simple, flavor and texture-full dish that has an Asian flair. We had this tonight alongside Chris' favorite Crispy Shrimp, served with its sauce on the side, for dipping.
I typically eat escarole raw, in salads, but it is getting harder to find the small, tender, less bitter heads as the weather gets warmer. Wilting the escarole helps foil the bitter flavor, and the sturdy leaves hold up to heat well.
Cremini, Eggplant, and Escarole Saute
heaping cup eggplant, coarsely chopped
1 medium head escarole
6 oz cremini (Baby Bella) mushrooms
toasted sesame oil
crushed red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, minced
Toss eggplant generously with salt, and set aside. Wash and dry the escarole, removing the core and tough outer leaves. Slice into large, coarse pieces. Brush mushrooms clean, then slice.
Rinse the eggplant well in a colander to remove salt, pat dry. Heat about 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large, non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic, cook for 1 minute, then add mushrooms and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add eggplant, and another splash of olive oil, if necessary. Saute for about 5 minutes, until beginning to brown and release liquids.
Add escarole to pan and drizzle with toasted sesame oil and soy sauce. Toss well to coat and mix with mushrooms and eggplant. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper and cook until escarole is wilting. Serve with a wedge of lemon alongside, if desired.