Aubergine and Kale Satay, 30p [VG/V/DF/GF]

 For Veganuary 2018, I have been trying to recreate near-replicas of popular non-vegan dishes, simply and inexpensively, in order to make the transition easier for people who are trying to reduce their intake of animal products while keeping in some recognisable dishes. I chose aubergine for this because it retains a ‘meaty’ texture when cooked, is succulent and juicy when cooked slowly in liquid, and at 75p for an aub, is a sight cheaper than any chicken would be. Folks often assume that a vegan lifestyle is full of expensive substitutes, but if you lay off the fake processed meat-substitutes and instead celebrate vegetables in all their cheap, delicious glory, it actually works out cheaper than the traditional meat-and-two-veg lifestyle. I should know, I’ve been writing budget recipes for six years now (!) and half that time was as a carnivore, half that time as a herbivore, and all that time carefully costing every dish by the penny. If aubergines aren’t your thing, try mushrooms, potatoes, or any veg of your choice. If you aren’t vegan or don’t have coconut milk in the house, you can use any kind of milk in its place – don’t buy it especially if it isn’t something you are likely to use. Grace and Maggi brands both sell powdered coconut milk, usually in the world foods or baking aisles, that is inexpensive and practical.
Serves 2-4 from 30p each
1 large onion, approx 150g, 9p (90p/1.5kg, Sainsburys Basics)

1 large aubergine, 75p (75p each, Sainsburys)

2 tbsp cooking oil, 3p (£3/3l, Sainsburys sunflower oil)

¼ tsp chilli flakes, 1p (80p/100g, Natco or KTC)

100ml coconut milk, 10p (£1/1l, Alpro coconut milk alternative at Sainsburys)

2 tbsp peanut butter, 9p (90p/340g, Sainsburys Basics)

1/2 tsp lemon juice, <1p (50p/250ml, Sainsburys)

100g frozen spinach or kale, 13p (£1.30/kg, Sainsburys)

A pinch of salt
First peel and finely slice your onion and toss into a large saucepan or frying pan. Dice the aubergine and add that too. Pour in the cooking oil and cook on a medium heat for a few minutes until the onion starts to soften. If the aubergine starts to brown, shake the lemon juice over it to stop it. It won’t matter when it’s all covered in sauce but it does make it look a bit better while cooking it.
Pour over the coconut milk and stir in the peanut butter and chilli, and turn the heat up to bring it to the boil. The peanut butter may fragment slightly and look like a split sauce, but it’s just getting its act together, it will melt into the coconut milk to form a smooth sauce soon enough. When it starts to bubble, reduce the heat down to medium again and cook for 20 minutes, or until the aubergine is soft. You may need to add a splash of water to it to loosen it if the sauce gets too thick – not all coconut milk nor peanut butter is created equal!
A minute or two before serving, stir in the frozen greens and allow them to cook. Garnish with a little extra chilli, if liked, and serve.

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  1. Thanks, Jack, I’m looking forward to trying this: just a note about Maggi coconut milk products, in that the powdered one that comes in a box does contain milk products, so strict vegans need to take care.

      • Yeah, I found that one out only after buying a box. Ingredients list in tiny writing.

      • I used it a few years ago (pre-veganism, so didn’t examine the box. Le grand sigh, why do they have to add animal products unnecessarily to *everything*? Thanks for letting me know, I love the helpful little community we have here 💚

    • Just as a reply to Lana whose daughter is allergic to peanuts. My son is severely allergic to peanuts and we told by his consultant to avoid sesame seeds as they can cause the same anaphalytic reaction as peanuts , so make sure she is okay with sesame before you use tahini. Thank you
      I wish we could use this recipe but with big lads problems can’t . I love aubergine though so I’m on the lookout for good recipes. We aren’t going veggie, but we are trying to cut down our animal products, because we try to only buy organic etc , and I can’t afford it, with two teenage boys that eat everything in sight (thank goodness for potatoes!)

    • My husband is allergic to both peanuts and sesame (but not all nuts), so he uses sunflower butter in some recipes – for home made hummus, for example. The flavour is a bit different but works well. However, it’s a lot more expensive than basic peanut butter, unfortunately.

      • Hi. Have you tried making your own sunflower butter? A bag of seeds is fairly cheap. Just chuck a cup full into a high power blender and add a bit of mild flavoured oil at a time until its the right consistency (I use standard veg oil)
        You can roast them, or not, or add salt, or not. Play around until you find your favourite.
        Works for sesame seeds and all kinds of nuts too.

  2. Hello Jack (and everyone else) HNY to all!! Now ….. I have an aubergine sitting slowly wilting in the fridge which would be perfect used for this. But I don’t have any kale – can I leave it out or subs with something else?

  3. If anyone is interested, Morrisons are currently selling aubergines at 50p. Every penny counts!

  4. Hi Jack, this is my first time trying one of your recipes after following you for years! It sounds amazing hopefully my efforts will turn out ok! Do you think this dish would freeze / reheat ok? Thank you!

  5. Going to attempt this tonight – last night was my first attempted recipe of Jack’s (after years of meaning to try – I’m not a natural cook!) and it was so delicious I’m going to do another! Whenever I try cooking aubergine it’s always a disaster, so I’m trusting you on this Jack 😉 I’ll do it with brown rice, I think. Fingers crossed for me, please..!

  6. just made my first vegan dish. this is just amazing 🙂 I used spring greens as I didn’t have kale and had chilli peanut butter. I added almond milk to losen it. I could be converted!

  7. Hi Jack, looks yum!! I love all your recipes, especially your chilled pea soup with spring onions. Mmmm.

    Anyway, I have some frozen (sliced and baked) aubegines in the freezer from when I had excess. Do you think they will be ok in this or should I use them for a lasagne or similar 🙂

  8. It was delicious, easy to make and popular with the whole family. I used leeks as well as onions, and threw in some mushrooms that needed eating too. Perfect with rice. Thank you!

  9. When I buy coconut milk and it’s more than I need, I freeze the rest in ice cubes trays which give nice portions for cooking. If you don’t have a lot of space, or need to make ice cubes, you can transfer them into leftover food plastic bags, plastic containers, or glasses and fill up any empty space in the freezer.

  10. Eek! I have never cooked aubergine. Do I keep the skin on or peel it?
    Kind regards, very novice cook 😬

  11. I’m making this now but the sauce keeps catching. Got a really crap electric hob! Took the pan off in between going from high to medium heat but have ended up cooking it for 20 mins on the lowest setting to stop the satay burning. Any suggestions…other than get a new hob! Thanks and LOVE your recipes 💕

  12. If you can’t use peanut butter or tahini try avocado butter. I bought some here in NZ as we have nut allergies & it worked really well.

  13. If you have a garden 4 or 5 kale plants will keep you supplied through winter and into spring, if you don’t have parakeets in the area. Beautiful, but destructive. Rather like humans I suppose…

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