Lunch Box: Make-Ahead Sweet and Sour Stir-Fried Eggplant with Snap Peas and Basil

Make-Ahead Stir-Fried Sweet and Sour Eggplant with Snap Peas and Basil

This vegetarian riff on Chinese sweet and sour chicken uses honey as a foil for acidic vinegar and salty soy sauce. [Photograph: Suzanne Lehrer]

Inspired by the classic Chinese take-out, this vegetarian lunch box takes the best elements of the sweet and sour staple—saucy glaze, tangy-sweet flavor—and leaves out the less make-ahead-friendly ones—gloppy leftovers, heaps of sugar. Swapping in eggplant for chicken or pork makes this reheat-friendly, with no fear of overcooking or drying out. Most sweet and sour sauce recipes call for cornstarch, for thickening the sauce to that signature syrupy consistency, and sugar. Here, I've left out both. I used honey instead of sugar to double as a thickener for the sauce and a natural sweetener to balance the vinegar and soy sauce. The sauce never congealed in the fridge or became a gluey remnant of last night's delivery.

With very few ingredients, this is an incredibly easy to way to whip up a lunch (or dinner) without traveling to the grocery store. Throw in additional vegetables, herbs, or even grains, and this becomes a kitchen-sink type of meal.

About the Author: Suzanne Lehrer is a writer and recipe developer in New York and a recipe editor for Cooking Channel. When not curating her budding hot sauce collection, she puts her French Culinary Institute education to good use in kitchens all around town. Follow her recipes and cooking adventures at and on twitter @the_suzchef.