Most braises are low-and-slow—this one is low-and-fast. And it just happens to be vegan. I borrowed inspiration from Alexandra Stafford, who borrowed inspiration from Julia Turshen: Curried Lentils with Coconut Milk . I like this best served with rice, but warm, pillowy flatbread would be perfect, too. —Emma Laperruque
Halve the eggplants lengthwise. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a cast-iron Dutch oven and set over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant, flat side facing down, and sear until deeply browned, about 5 minutes. Flip, season the tops generously with salt, then brown for another 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil in the pot over medium heat. Add the shallot, garlic, cumin, turmeric, mustard, coriander, black pepper, and a pinch of salt. Stir. Cook for about 4 minutes, until the shallot is starting to slouch and the spices are super fragrant. Add the shiitakes and a pinch of salt. Stir. Cook for a minute or so until wilted. Add the scallions and a pinch of salt. Stir. Cook for a minute or so until wilted. Add the coconut milk. Stir. Add back the eggplant pieces, flat side facing down. Adjust the heat to a simmer. Cook, covered, for about 5 minutes, then flip the eggplant and simmer, covered, for another 10 minutes, or until tender. Season with more salt and mustard to taste.
Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.