CSA Week Thirteen: More Eggplant

eggplant1I had to laugh when I read “eggplants are nutritionally challenged” in my produce book.  It follows (and redeems itself) by saying ” but is valued in vegetarian dishes for their meaty flavor and texture” which I find to be true.  The best meat substitutes I’ve found are eggplant and portabella mushrooms!  Eggplants are high in water content, low in calories and high in fiber which also makes it a great vegetable for those looking to lose a few pounds.

Eggplant is believed to have originated in India or Burma and then made its way to popularity in Northern Africa and Arab countries.  Funny enough, when eggplant appeared in Europe, it was believed to be poisonous and was grown for ornamental purposes.  There are many types of eggplant, and we are seeing several of them this growing season, but luckily they are pretty well interchangeable in recipes.

Your eggplant is best used fresh, and because of its high water content will go spongy pretty quickly.  Store your eggplant at cool room temperature or in the drawer of your refrigerator for up to one week.  Probably not one of the better vegetables to freeze, but you can if you want.  Simply soak five minutes in a solution of 4 Tablespoons salt per gallon of water and blanch for two minutes in steam.  Cool immediately in cold water, dry and package in layers.

Some more tips about your eggplant….

More thin-skinned eggplant like our Asian eggplant can be eaten whole, but you may want to peel any larger eggplants.  To remove any acrid flavors and excess moisture before cooking, lightly salt slices of eggplant and allow them to sit in a colander for 10-15 minutes.  Gently squeeze out any liquid.  If you are using oil in your recipe this method will also allow the eggplant to soak up less oil.

To bake, prick eggplant all over with a fork and bake at 400 degrees until flesh is tender, about 30 minutes.

To stuff, bake about 20 minutes, scoop out the seeds, replace with stuffing mixture, return to oven and bake for 15 more minutes.

To fry, dip in favorite batter and lightly fry in vegetable oil.

To saute, dip slices or chunks in flour, or eggs and bread crumbs before sauteing.  Saute in hot oil until light brown, season with herbs, garlic or grated cheese.


BAKED EGGPLANT SLICES

1 medium eggplant
salt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup minced green onion
1 cup cracker crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Peel eggplant and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices.  Sprinkle with salt, let drain about 30 minutes then pat dry.  Combine mayonnaise and onion.  Spread on both sides of eggplant slices.  Mix crumbs with cheese.  Dip coated eggplant into crumb mixture.  Place on baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees  for approximately 20 minutes.


EGGPLANT PARMESAN

2 small eggplants
salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup minced onion
2 cloves minced garlic
4 cups peeled and sliced tomatoes
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oregano or basil
1 teaspoon parsley
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup flour
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cut eggplants crosswise into 1/2-inch slices.  Sprinkle with salt and let drain at least 30 minutes.  Meanwhile heat oil in a large skillet.  Saute onion and garlic about three minutes.  Add tomatoes, sugar, salt, herbs and pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.  Pat eggplants dry.  Dust with flour.  Heat 2 Tablespoons oil in a skillet and lightly brown eggplants on both sides.  Place half of the slices in a 13×9 baking dish.  Cover with half of the tomato sauce and  half of the mozzarella.  Repeat the layers and sprinkle Parmesan over top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.


MORE EGGPLANT RECIPES:  Eggplant Pizzas, Simple Roasted Eggplant, Layered Eggplant, Zucchini and Tomato Casserole,  Eggplant Stuffed With Ricotta, Spinach and Artichokes, Stuffed Eggplant with Beef, Eggplant Fries, Eggplant Sliders, Grilled Eggplant Sandwich


 

 

 

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