Friday, March 14, 2008

Try It You'll Like It - Eggplant

Eggplant is a very strangely named vegetable. Except for some gourmet varieties that actually do look like eggs, this large purple orb looks nothing like an egg (Unless Barney the Dinosaur lays purple eggs!) You might be surprised, and a bit alarmed to hear that eggplant is a member of the nightshade family and in fact, for a while was referred to as Mala Insana or "mad apples" because they were thought to cause insanity. In Spain, however eggplants were thought of as an aphrodisiac. While we think of it as a vegetable, it is really a fruit. It is native to India and Pakistan, and was imported to the US by famed horticulturalist and Virginian, Thomas Jefferson, when a friend sent him an eggplant from France.

Globe eggplants are the kind of eggplants you see most often in your supermarket, but there are numerous varieties such as the longer thin Japanese or Asian eggplants and smaller egg-shaped and variegated varieties as well. Our friend "Evil David" often brings eggplant dishes for tapas night, but is only recently that I started making it myself (my husband was also not a big fan!)


Now I have to admit that I had never had an eggplant until about 10 years ago, and I didn't like it then. It seemed bitter and not very appealing. However , a simple technique in the preparation of your eggplant can make it into a delicious meal. If you are new to eggplant, you need a gentle introduction with a dish like eggplant parmesan, cause after all who doesn't love something with tomato sauce and cheese. Then you can work up to classics like baba ghanoush (an hummus-like eggplant dip) or imam bayaldi (a stuffed eggplant).


So what is the secret? If you are slicing eggplant for use in a dish like eggplant parmesan, set the slices in a colander,salt generously and let sit for at least 30 minutes. Before using the eggplant, rinse very well to remove salt and cook as directed- I swear it makes eggplant that is delicious and rich without the bitterness.


Ready to dive in yet? Try this recipe. It is the easiest and healthiest eggplant parmesan you'll ever have. It takes You can have dinner on the table in less than an hour, and it will change your mind about eggplant. I promise it won't make you crazy, and who knows, maybe you'll get lucky!


Deb's Aphrod-EASY-ac Eggplant Parmesan


2 medium globe eggplants cut into one inch slices
2 cups homemade or good quality jarred spaghetti sauce

2 cups grated mozarella cheese or thickly cut mozzarella slices (1 per eggplant slice)

Pam or other oil cooking spray

2 tbsp olive oil


After you have sliced the eggplant, place in colander and salt generously. Let stand for about 30 minutes, then rinse well. Spray baking sheet with Pam and lay eggplant slices in a single layer on the sheet. Brush with olive oil. Broil for about 3-5 minutes per side until just browned. Remove and set oven to 350 degrees. Cover the top of each eggplant slice with a thick layer of sauce and top with cheese. Bake about 20 minutes until cheese is bubbly. Serve with a salad and some ciabatta bread and consider yourself converted! Serves 4 as a main dish.



15 comments:

kristen said...

I have to admit that i have never tried eggplant before! I'm all for trying new foods so maybe i'll give this recipe a go!

Sharona May said...

Eggplant Parmesan is a great meal. I have an Aunt who makes one of the best Eggplant Parmesans I have ever had. I can't make it quite like her.

thanks for the recipe

Sharona May

Bellini Valli said...

I love eggplant and zucchini combinations and have learned to love and embrace the eggplant:D

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Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

In almost all cases salting and draining the eggplant (and same for zucchini and cucumbers) really improves the flavor of the final dish. Eggplant parm was one of the first dishes I learned to cook, and it's still a favorite.

Paula VB said...

Hi Deborah,
Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving your comment. Now I got to know yours and found out it's great! I love eggplant parmigiana, baba ganoush, and I also use the japanese to make it asian style, stir fried with soy sauce, ginger, scallions and chillies!

Vicarious Foodie said...

I've always just assumed that I don't like eggplant--I don't even know where I got the idea from. But if it's as good as you say it is, I think I have to try it.

Deborah Dowd said...

Kristen- You really should! It is easy and delicious.

Sharona May- Traditional eggplant parmesan is a little heavier. This trimmed down version is a
healthy substitute.

Bellini Valli- I have learned this too!

Matthew- Thanks for the kind words and the link- I will check it out!

Lydia- It is amazing that such a siple step makes all the difference!

Paula vb-Thanks for stopping byand I love the idea you suggest for an asian eggplant dish!

Vicarious Foodie- Give it a try, often. our tastes change or we have preconceived notions about how something will taste!

Cynthia said...

Hi Deborah, thanks for visiting my blog! It is a pleasure to discover yours. I trust that you and the family enjoyed the vacation.

Hmmmm eggplant, I've long had a strange relationship with this fruit/vegetable. The only way I can eat it is when it is fire roasted and then the flesh made into a variety of other dishes or if it is sliced thinly, dipped in a spicy pea-batter and fried :)

BC said...

I make a roasted eggplant soup - which I love. But the kids aren't keen on eggplant.

michelle @ TNS said...

i'm not really an eggplant fan, but i will never turn down a good eggplant parm. it really is the gateway eggplant dish, because now i *love* baba ghanouj.

Ellieut said...

OMG, I want Eggplant Parm now. Thanks Deborah! And I am stuck eating pizza tonight. I can only dream......

Karyn said...

You know, I've never had trouble with bitter eggplant.

Lately I've been using a lot of Chinese eggplant (mostly because I can find it cheaper than Globe). I've heard that many eggplant-haters prefer Chinese eggplant because it has fewer seeds and tastes less bitter.

Maybe you should give it a whirl?

Deborah Dowd said...

Cynthia- That pea-batter dish sounds wonderful- is it on your blog?

BC- I never thought of an eggplant soup!

Michelle- You are so right, and this version is a great way to start!

Ellieut- Sorry- this happens to me all the time when I blog-surf! But then, there is always tomorrow!

Karyn- I think the bitterness has to do with the age of the eggplant. I have had the thin Japanese version and they are really great!

coco said...

This sounds so simple. and anything with cheese is well, delicious! :) Will be a wonderful side dish served with pasta