Not so recently anymore, I got into a conversation with one of my guy friends about where I go to the gym. He, being a native Upper East Sider all his life exclaimed, “Oh yeah. That’s a great place to meet people. Lots of singles.”

Interesting. Because I haven’t had. Quite. That. Experience.

Aside, of course, from the personal trainer who offered to help me perfect my squats (for the record – bad pick-up line guys. Really bad.).

To whom my response was. Thanks. But no thanks.

I couldn’t figure out what it was. So I spent a lot of time ruminating on the subject. (Instead of studying the three parts of the broad ligament of the uterus. I thought it was a much better use of my time.)

First I thought.

Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m just not pick-up-at-the-gym material. Maybe I give off F*** you vibes. (I’m actually pretty sure that’s part of it. But I blame that on living in New York. It’s a survival mechanism.)

So I told that to my friend. He didn’t seem to think it was likely. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Or something like that.


He seemed to think it might have something to do with the fact that I bring my anatomy notes with me and study them while on the elliptical.

It doesn’t help that right now. These notes consist of a study sheet on the congenital malformations of the vagina. And an in-depth analysis of the process of sperm maturation.

What is someone supposed to say to that? Hey baby. That’s a really nice picture of the perineal body you’ve got there.

Yeah. If I were a guy. I would probably run. Away. Screaming.

So I guess he has a point.
It probably also doesn’t help that when I’m not studying anatomy. I tend to be watching really bad television. The Real World. Sixteen and Pregnant. The Tyra Show.

Which isn’t my fault, really. This is what I’ve been reduced to since the powers that be decided to replace the Food Network with Bloomberg TV. (Stocks versus Paula Deen. No brainer. Apparently someone out there is missing a large part of their frontal lobe.)

My new favorite guilty pleasure is the new Jessica Simpson show, called The Price of Beauty. Basically Jessica goes around the world looking at what defines beauty in different countries. And, as one would expect, always concludes that while physical beauty is nice. It’s what’s inside that really counts. (Let’s all give a collective Awwwwwwww.)

Cheesy. But true. Case in point.

This pasta. It’s brown. Kind of monochrome. Not so very appealing.

But let me tell you. Looks. Can be deceiving. Because one bite of this. And you will be hit with flavor. Lots of it.

I mean. It has eight cloves of garlic in it. (And yet again, I wonder why no one comes near me at the gym.) How could you go wrong there?
Eggplant and Tofu in Spicy Garlic Sauce
Serves 4, adapted from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen

1 lb pasta
1 box extra firm tofu
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp water
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 1/2 lb eggplant, peeled and sliced into strips
1/3 cup water
8 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
3/4 cup vegetable broth
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
3 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
1/2 tbsp dark sesame oil
1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp sriracha (hot chili sauce)
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tomato, chopped

Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch slices and press them lightly between towels to get some of the moisture out. Combine the 3 tbsp. soy sauce with the 2 tbsp. water and 1/2 tsp. sesame oil. Dip each slice of tofu into the mixture and set on a plate.

Set up a pot of water for the pasta. When boiling, cook the pasta per the package’s instructions. In the meantime.

Heat an oiled, non-stick skillet until hot. Place the tofu slices in the skillet and cook until browned. Turn over and brown the other sides. When the tofu is completely browned on both sides, remove it from the skillet and place it on a cutting board. Cut each slice into 8-10 cubes. Set aside.

Heat an oiled, non-stick wok and add the eggplant and 1/3 cup water. Cover and cook, stirring often, until eggplant begins to brown. Uncover and add the garlic and ginger and cook for 2 more minutes.

Add all remaining ingredients except the tomato, sesame seeds, and tofu. Simmer uncovered until all the eggplant slices are completely cooked–they will be very soft and start to fall apart. Add the tofu cubes and tomato and cook until heated through.

Dish the pasta out into four bowls. Cover it with the eggplant/tofu mixture.

NOTE – If you don’t like tofu. Which I know some of you out there don’t (ahem, Dave). I think this would be excellent with chicken. Or pork. But I would marinate it overnight in the soy sauce/sesame oil mixture rather than just for a few seconds.

This is my submission to this week’s Presto Pasta Nights which is being hosted by Ruth over at Once Upon A Feast!

You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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74 Responses to Eggplant and Tofu in Spicy Garlic Sauce Over Pasta

  1. Lea Ann says:

    ok, here’s my thoughts on this whole gym thing and you. At first I was with you, I go to the gym and even tho not single would not think of it as a way of meeting people. BUT, then you mentioned the garlic. If you’re reeking garlic perhaps there’s an unsuspecting and upcoming handsome Chef on the next eliptical who is reeking of onions….a match made in heaven! I’m just sayin…..

  2. Kim says:

    I laughed through this whole post. A trainer who wanted to help you perfect your squats (awful, really awful pick up line). I think someone needs to stuff that guy in a locker or something.

    I know the pasta has to be delicious with eight cloves of garlic – WOW! I can see how the flavor really adds up in this dish and I love the sriracha.

    P.S. I kinda like that new Jessica Simpson show too! In it’s own way, it’s a little bit educational, right;D

  3. Luigi says:

    I like your arty photos, with the fork.
    Excellent recipe!!

  4. Dear, Love the tofu and eggplant in garlic sauce. I love anything with plenty of garlic. This is certainly my kind of food.
    BTW, I sent the tracking info for the package. Check your mail if you haven’t already.

  5. Debbi Smith says:

    This sounds awesome. With chicken. Love the garlic.

    Do you REALLY want to tell your children in 10 years that you met daddy at the GYM? Probably not. I wouldn’t worry about it.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. This sounds so very yummy! This is so my kinda food,

  8. Joanne,,,sorry dear i was looking ur another recipe n typing the comment about other recipe in egg plant one,,,really your egg plant in tofu sounds great dear very healthy option of eating tofu with garlic sauce really works out well…hope u enjoyed this food much ahh..

  9. yes this is a great story….love how you weave really life tales into the food. and about the food….never met a pasta i did not like-this looks to die for 🙂

  10. GAWD! I didn’t realize there was so much crap out there in TV land. This eggplant tofu combination looks fab. Great job girl!

  11. lovely sauce for the pasta, nice recipe joanne with nice blend of ingredients used to make it more delicious…

  12. Pam says:

    Funny! TV shows are a hoot sometimes! Love that eggplant, it looks great!

  13. Amy says:

    I’ve always admired people that could read while on a treadmill. I always workout in the early morning hours and got super tired of CNN, so we started renting DVDs. I’ve been watching old (new to me) seasons of LOST. I’m totally hooked.

    So, I see I have many posts to catch up on, but I’m in transition, as you know, staying at my parents until our things arrive next week, and it’s near impossible to be on their computer for more than a few minutes at a time. Moving is such a bitch.

    And check it out – I leave a 70/sunny Minnesota to a 60/rainy California. Can you say ironic?

  14. Katerina says:

    I wouldn’t think of going with this trainer. From my experience there are many in this category who suffer from serious brain absence. This pasta with all this garlic looks fabulous.

  15. ew. i for one, as a trainer, NEVER pick up clients nor people that way. COZ I WOULD HATE IF THAT HAPPENED TO ME! LOL!
    anyways, never never never never have been picked up in the gym. unless this new guy WAS in fact trying to pick me up, then, well, tha’ts one time. i used to study reproductive systems on the elliptical toO! homeys we are.

  16. elra says:

    You are so hilarious Jo, as soon as I get up in the morning, dive in to your blog, and I always laugh. This is very positive to start the morning with a good laugh!

    Anyway, that tofu looks good, although I never really combine it with pasta, sounds pretty delicious.

  17. MaryMoh says:

    That’s a very healthy vegetarian dish. I love eggplant and tofu. Never thought of such a lovely combo. Thanks for sharing.

  18. Tia says:

    wow that looks so good, too good to be healthy or vegan lol.

  19. doggybloggy says:

    I simply love eggplant – I love its name I love its texture I even love that its called aubergine, this looks very satisfying.

  20. Mari says:

    this recipe has mari written alllllll over it! it looks fantastic!

  21. theUngourmet says:

    It very well could be a combination of the vagina studies and the garlic breath! 😀 You are too funny!

    This looks fabulous!

  22. Bob says:

    Switch out the tofu for chicken and I’d be all about this! Heh. 😉

  23. Sharlene says:

    Sounds delicious! Boy will likely enjoy it sometime next week.

    Also, I don’t know how anyone studies at the gym. I get motion sick. Perhaps I’m the only one.

  24. Marcia says:

    oh boy does that look really good. I am going to have to try that.

  25. Barbara says:

    Gotta have chicken in mine! But it sure looks good!
    That trainer was an idiot.
    Aren’t there any neat guys in school with you? They wouldn’t mind your studying vaginas while on a treadmill. 🙂

  26. Yeah you’re right about the appearance of them eal. It is a little rough looking. As for the gym, I am not there to socialize. I’m there to work out and get home as fast as possible. I can’t stand the people that come to the gym and take up space on a machine only to pretend they’re a guest on a talk show. I also don’t like people who sing out loud with their iPods and those who just can’t help but “air box” after doing a particularly tough set. Really, people? Keep yourselves in check. No one else is interested. Wow, I guess I needed to get something off my chest.

  27. Pam says:

    Mmmm. Hearty, healthy and delicious.

  28. ruchikacooks says:

    You Know Jo, half the time I wonder what to write with the recipe, what can I connect it with, but you have so many incidents to connect with the reader, from your classes to the parties- my favorite is the heart exam- abnormal heartbeat is abnormal and normal ones are normal 🙂

    Tofu with pasts is a combination I havent tried till now, I grill the tofu with veggies like a kebab. And thanks so much for forgiving me for not sending Irish recipes. The next one I will send something for sure. There is a giveaway/legume contest in mine for this month.

  29. Joanne, Joanne, Joanne! You’re the only food blog that i read that writes about a cadaver and some body parts side by side with food LOL! You fascinate me!
    This pasta looks good. glorious garlic right there and i love it!
    and hey btw, thanks for the email reply.. so sweet of you!

  30. When you’re a famous comedienne/writer/doctor you’ll have to beat the guys off with a New York stick!

    Great looking pasta! I’ll pass on the tofu 😉

  31. Spicy garlic sauce sounds FABULOUS!!! 🙂 And I think they’re not hitting on you cuz they take one look at your gorgeous smart self and say, “Sigh, outta my league.” Can’t wait to see the fella who mans up, takes the risk and finds out how awesome you are. 🙂

  32. Velva says:

    This is a great pasta dish. It is loaded with flavor, which means it has a lot of character too, like you.

    As always, I smiled through your post.

  33. vickys says:

    I’m such a cliche when I say this but things happen when you least expect it. And besides, wouldn’t you click MUCH better with a guy who understand what notes you’ve got in front of you than one who thinks you’re dorkerella? 🙂

    About the pasta: I love brown food. There’s a reason why a brown square of chocolate is the most delicious thing in the world. It’s understated beauty lets us concentrate on it’s TRUE flavour! ahhh, love your brown pasta. 🙂

  34. you will bump into Mr right when you least expect it thats what happened to me, great pasta love all the ingredients

  35. Bridgett says:

    What a nice trainer…yikes! Gyms are just giant meat markets it seems. I love everything about this pasta!

  36. Shannon says:

    yeah, i’ve never really viewed the gym as a place to pick up guys… but maybe if you bring some of this to the gym, it’ll be a magnet 🙂

  37. shankari says:

    Awesome looking pasta- I love the addition of ginger and soy sauce

  38. Debinhawaii says:

    You know I always feel so gross and sweaty in the gym thinking of it as a pick up place just doesn’t work for me.

    The pasta looks delicious–love that garlic. 😉

  39. katiez says:

    One can never have too much garlic, IMHO. Although, once, when I got out of the car at our Mother’s Day picnic, my siblings backed away with a collective ‘ewwwww’ – roasted garlic with the lamb the night before….

  40. Jessie says:

    Mmm, garlic breath! Totally worth it, IMHO.

    I never thought of the gym as a pick-up place, mostly because people go there to (presumably) sweat, and I just never found that very attractive for some reason. Thus, if you’re attracting people at the gym, you aren’t sweating enough. Get back to work! 😉

    A few weeks ago I was studying my Medical Nutrition Therapy notes on a plane, and a stewardess comes by and says, “Schoolwork?” I look down, and I’m staring at a huge picture of a fistula between the vagina and the rectum.

    I guess that’s why she was pointing and laughing at me with the other flight attendants later.

  41. Ruth Daniels says:

    I’m with Katie – one can never have too much garlic. Now…not really being a big tofu fan, the eggplant and tons of garlic – not to mention all those other delicious ingredients will have me give it another try – as is.

    Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights.

  42. Well our gym classes are more of ”no talk” ”no cell phones” zones …..:-))), no wonder i end up working so muc more and adding to the rounds of my circuit training:-))))
    UR gymming sounds so interesting but the eggplant and tofu in a spicy garlic sauce is what has my un divided attention and has me totally craving now:-)))
    bdw what were those eastern desserts u were talking about ?
    Trust u to get me all excited :-)))

  43. Nicole, RD says:

    Sperm maturation notes don’t bring all the boys to the yard? I’d have thought very much so the opposite! I love it! The 8 cloves of garlic? Hey, if randos at the gym can’t appreciate a good cook, they’re loss. And more for you.

    Joanne, this dish looks AMAZING! Will be making! Mucho gracias, and have a wonderful weekend!

  44. Pam says:

    Did I mention that I like…no love pasta! Great job Joanne!

    Stay happy Sweetie….It’s Good Friday…..ha!


  45. Sippity Sup says:

    Love egg plant. Love tofu and garlic too. But ‘nuf about pasta. This is really about dating right? In which case my advice is. Don’t change a thing. Integrity is the way to a man’s heart. Well that and pasta. GREG

  46. Kris says:

    golden deliciousness!

  47. katecooks says:

    i’ve heard about this whole ‘picking up people at the gym’ thing and i think it’s rumor too. i mean, has it ever actually happened to anyone? sometimes old dudes MIGHT check out my butt, but that’s about it. either my gym is not social, or i’m giving off the F-you, i’m sweaty and working out vibes. which, is totally possible 🙂

  48. dessert girl says:

    Ha! Recently, a bunch of us went to a pizza buffet during our lunch break. We were the only ladies in the place, which was packed!! We suddenly realized that we were the only women in a room full of me and none of us were getting hit on! Hmmm…well, I guess it is difficult to get between a man and his pizza!

    Oh, and the pasta look delicious!! 🙂

  49. Gulmohar says:

    Awesome combo…Loved the flavors you added..:-)

  50. Sophie says:

    MMMMMMMM,…Joanne!! What a tasty & fab pasta dish!! I so love eggplants, we call them aubergines!

  51. Jagruti says:

    Lovely post as usual egg plant in anything..sooooo gone try it out soon…:-))

  52. Chris says:

    You think it would be bad if you ran off a prospective guy because he saw your notes on congenital malformations of the vagina, it could be worse. Think about the kind of guy that would be turned ON by that kind of thing! Get off that elliptical machine and run, run very fast Joanne!

    And thanks for allowing the tofu substitution 🙂 I have tried it, I just didn’t like it.

  53. You will – I know it! You’re going to meet a guy who is just as smart and fascinating as yourself. A little birdie told me. So it must be true. This is such a unique pasta! So full of flavors! I love it!

  54. PJ says:

    it looks like pasta got the asian makeover indeed! looks delicious with all the tofu, hoisin sauce goodness. loved reading your post as always 🙂

  55. Martha says:

    Hey Joanne,
    Just catching up on all I’ve missed here while on my little blog break. This is one is my favorite, sounds like something I would really love. I know it goes against much of what I make for my guys and post on my blog but I eat a mostly vegetarian diet myself. I call myself a wannabeatarian.
    Have a great weekend and a wonderful Easter 🙂

  56. Mary says:

    This is rib sticking good. It looks delicious. Have a great weekend….Mary

  57. Alisa says:

    Cute, very cute. From what I have seen at the gyms, there are women who give off a vibe and dress for the occasion. They tend to look more approachable than the girl studying *ahem* anatomy notes 🙂

    That pasta looks awesome though! Your cooking is not suffering from lack of Food Network!

  58. Cristie says:

    Love eggplant, sounds yummy. Good luck at the gym . . .

  59. That rich mahogany eggplant and curvy pasta looks beautiful to me… I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  60. What a hearty but delicious vegetarian dinner. I always wonder what to make when vegetarians come around. thanks for sharing this recipe.
    I hope you have a fab Easter weekend.
    *kisses* HH

  61. EAT! says:

    Lovin’ this eggplant recipe. I am always on the lookout for some new and tasty vegetarian entrees – this one is going to the top of my list of ones to try.

  62. ejm says:

    I think this would be excellent with chicken too. (yup, another tofu dissenter here)

    I’ve recently discovered the wonders of adding eggplant to my “must have dinner on the table in 20 minutes” pasta sauces. (Eggplant, caramelized onion and sweet potato work very well together.) And isn’t it wonderful in spite of its dog’s breakfast looks?


    P.S. WHAT is it with the food network? Every time I turn it on to see if maybe just maybe there might be something interesting, it’s “Restaurant Makeover” or that stupid cake making competition. Sigh. When did they stop cooking? (I just looked at the show line-up on FoodTV Canada and eeeeeeeek! There’s a show called “What Would Brian Boitano Make?”. Does ANYONE watch that for more than the time it takes to change the channel??)

  63. Shirley says:

    Pasta and tofu, that’s inspiring!

  64. tigerfish says:

    That’s quite a lot of garlic for pasta. Just make sure you don’t head to the gym after this dish!

  65. Marisa says:

    Garlic for the win! I think it’s a good guy filter actually – if he can’t handle the garlic, then he can’t handle you either. 😉

  66. Andreas says:

    Mmmh, pasta and garlic can’t be beat.
    Tofu, or no. 😉

  67. Cynthia says:

    I LOVE eggplant and tofu! This sounds sooo good! I’ll have to put this onto my meal plan!

  68. Michelle says:

    YUM…the spicy garlic sauce sounds soooooo good!

  69. Xiaolu says:

    Wow this sounds absolutely spicy flavorful and delicious. I think I may give off “f you” vibes too, so I can’t help illuminate the gym issue but it’s their loss :).

  70. Ashley says:

    I love tofu and am always looking for new recipes. Yum 🙂

  71. Made this for dinner like I said I would. Okay so maybe it was a month later than I said I would but I got around to it! The only change I made was to serve it over rice because we’re hardcore Asian and I added salt because.. we’re hardcore water-retainers. Boy loved it. Got seconds. And that’s HUGE considering I already give him a large portion and we both try to avoid food coma at all costs to maximize studying/spooning/what have you. Thanks for the recipe!

  72. Anonymous says:

    I just subscribed to your blog! You make me laugh! I am a nurse and love that you have time to blog, go to medical school, gym and all those things…it’s great 🙂 And not to mention yummy recipes that I can’t wait to try. Keep up the good work!

  73. Ok this pasta looks like it would take me to a whole other world. Delicious!

    The post made me chuckle, too. =)

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