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Garlic, Bell Pepper, Zucchini - Marinated Eggplant with Orzo

Marinade

1/2 c. Low sodium soy sauce

1/2 c. Rice vinegar

3Tb. Light brown sugar

3-4 cloves Garlic, finely minced

1" piece Fresh ginger, peeled & grated (or finely minced)

1/8 tsp. Fresh black pepper

Veggies

6-8 Small/medium eggplant stems removed, skin-on, cut into 1/2" chunks

1 medium Red bell pepper, cut into thin strips or small pieces

8-10 Fresh mushrooms, sliced

1 medium Zucchini, cut into thin strips or small pieces

2 Tb. Vegetable oil (divided)

3-4 Tb. Toasted sesame seeds or chopped green onions

Orzo, brown rice or pasta (prepare according to package directions for 4 servings)

Whisk marinade ingredients in a large bowl and allow to sit a few minutes so the brown sugar dissolves. Add eggplant pieces to marinade; mix well. Cover and leave at room temperature about 20 minutes. Prepare orzo (or brown rice or pasta) according to package directions for 4 servings. When cooked, drain and/or set aside and keep warm until ready to combine with veggies. Add vegetable oil to a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add red pepper, zucchini and mushrooms and cook until tender and slightly brown (about 5 minutes). Transfer veggies to a large mixing bowl and cover to keep warm. In the same pan, over medium heat, add 1 Tb. vegetable oil, then eggplant pieces (but leave the marinade in the bowl). Cook and stir eggplant until the edges are brown and pieces are soft (about 5 minutes). Then add 3-4 tablespoons of the marinade, cover the pan, turn off the heat and allow it to sit 8-10 minutes. Transfer the eggplant (and any liquid) to the mixing/serving bowl; add the cooked orzo/rice/pasta. Add several tablespoons of the remaining marinade, mix, taste, and keep adding a little at a time, to taste. Add salt, if needed. Top with toasted sesame seeds or chopped green onions (optional) and serve.

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