Eggplant, corn and peanuts are wonderful late-summer partners, especially with a bright, gingery sauce that brings them together with udon noodles, spinach, and herbs in this warm, savory dish. You can find dried udon noodles in Island groceries, but you could also use linguine, and if you want a lighter or gluten-free dish, soba noodles. Feel free to leave out the peanuts if you like. I like to sauté the eggplant separately first before the other vegetables to maximize browning and to keep its shape. This noodle dish makes tasty leftovers, eaten cold if you like.

Serves 4 as a side, 2 as a main

  • Kosher salt
  • 6 ounces dried udon noodles
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium tamari
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon mirin (rice wine)
  • 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoons Asian chili-garlic paste
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable, grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • 2 1/2 cups medium-diced eggplant (any kind)
  • 1/3 cup unsalted peanuts
  • 2 cups quartered or halved and thickly sliced small mushrooms (Creminis and/or stemmed shiitakes)
  • 2/3 cup thickly sliced scallions (white and light green parts)
  • 2 cups lightly packed baby spinach leaves
  • 3/4 to 1 cup fresh corn kernels (from about 2 ears)
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh garlic
  • Up to 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh mint and cilantro or any combination of mint, basil, thai basil or cilantro

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the udon noodles and cook until just tender, about 6 minutes. (They will be tender in a little less time than most package directions indicate. You want them to be al dente.) Drain in a colander, rinse briefly, and let dry a bit. Transfer to a bowl and toss with a big pinch of salt and 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil.

In a small bowl, stir together the tamari, lemon juice, rice wine, brown sugar, chili-garlic paste, 1 tablespoon water, and the remaining teaspoon of sesame oil. Set aside.

In a large (12-inch) nonstick stir-fry pan, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, until the eggplant is browned on most sides, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the eggplant to a plate. Add 1 teaspoon oil and the peanuts to the stir-fry pan and cook, stirring constantly, until browned in spots, 1 to 2 minutes (don’t walk away!). Transfer to a plate. Let pan cool off the heat for a minute.

Return the pan to the heat and add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil to the pan; add the mushrooms, green onions, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, until the veggies are shrunken and browned, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the spinach, the corn, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, until the spinach is thoroughly wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic; stir well until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Lower the heat to medium-low, and stir in the noodles, 3/4 of the eggplant and peanuts, and the tamari mixture. Cook, stirring, just until the noodles are heated through and well incorporated and the sauce is clingy. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in 3/4 of the chopped herbs and transfer to a serving platter or shallow bowls. Garnish with the remaining eggplant, peanuts and herbs.

This recipe originally appeared with this story.