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.