“Diane’s Dish On…Eggplant”
Eggplants, aka Aubergine, belong to the nightshade family of vegetables, which also includes tomatoes, sweet peppers and potatoes. Eggplants have a dimple at the blossom end. The dimple can be very round or oval in shape. The round ones seem to have more seeds and tend to be less meaty, so select the oval dimpled eggplant.
*Eggplant is an excellent source of dietary fiber and bone-building manganese and a very good source of potassium, vitamin K , magnesium, copper, vitamin C, vitamin B6, folate, and niacin.
*Eggplant contains phytonutrients caffeic and chlorogenic acid, and flavonoids, such as nasunin. Nasunin is a strong antioxidant and free radical scavenger that has been shown to protect cell membranes from damage.
*Eggplant contains oxalates which are naturally-occurring substances found in plants, animals, and human beings. When oxalates become too concentrated in body fluids, they can crystallize and cause health problems. Because of this people with existing and untreated kidney or gallbladder problems may want to avoid eating eggplant.
*Eggplant has a tough skin so be sure to use a sharp knife when cutting.
*There are various types of eggplant:
- Italian or Mediterranean eggplant: teardrop-shaped or pear-shaped purple eggplant is the most common and standard eggplant
-Japanese and Chinese eggplant: long (6-8 inches), slender and lavender color
-Thai and Indian eggplant: shades of green, purple and lines of green and white. They are about the size of walnuts
*Eggplant has a naturally occurring bitter taste that you can reduce by “sweating”. Cut into the desired size and shape then sprinkle with salt set aside for about 30 minutes. This will pull out some of the water out and it will absorbing less oil when cooking. Be sure to rinse eggplant after sweating remove most of the salt.
*My favorite ways to cook eggplant is grilled and baked:
-To bake: pierce the eggplant several times with a fork to make small holes for the steam to escape. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. When fork pierces skin easily it’s done.
-To grill: Cut eggplant into 1/2 inch rings, place in your favorite marinade for about 15 minutes, grill then place back in marinade quickly and serve.
*Make homemade babaganoush: purée roasted eggplant, garlic, tahini paste, fresh squeezed lemon juice and olive oil. Dip with vegetables or use as a condiment.
*Saute cubed eggplant with with peppers, onions, garlic, parsley, spinach and top with balsamic vinaigrette.
*Cut miniature Japanese eggplants in half, scoop out flesh then stuff with a mixture of your favorite cheese, nuts, chopped veggies, herbs and spices then bake
*Add diced eggplant to your next stir-fry.
*Eggplants aren’t really vegetables, they’re berries
*In Renaissance Italy, it was called a mala insana or “crazy apple”
*In England the eggplant was thought to cause madness when eaten
*According to a 5th century Chinese scroll, fashionable Chinese women used to make a dye out of the skin of purple eggplants and polish their teeth with it until they were a shiny gray
*An eggplant is almost 95% water.
Diane Henderiks’ Eggplant Rollatini with Spinach
1. Gather ingredients
2 large eggplant
1 cup whole wheat flour
pinch of salt and pepper
1 whole egg plus 4 egg whites; beaten
1/4 cup low fat or fat free milk
2 cups bread crumbs
2 cups part-skim Ricotta cheese
2 egg whites
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano (or 1/3 teaspoon dried)
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh basil (or 1/3 teaspoon dried)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1/3 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
2 cups chopped, cooked spinach (frozen works great…be sure to squeeze as much water out as possible)
Your favorite tomato sauce….comment on this blog if you want my amazing recipe
1/2 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3. Slice the ends off of eggplant and slice lengthwise in 1/4 inch slices
4. In 3 baking sheets or platters combine:
1. whole wheat flour and pepper
2. egg whites and milk
3. bread crumbs
5. Coat all of the eggplant slices: follow these steps shaking of any excess at each step
1. dredge eggplant in flour
2. dip in egg mixture
3. cover completely with bread crumbs
6. Rub cast iron or nonstick skillet or griddle with 1 teaspoon of oil. Heat to medium/high. Cook eggplant in batches for 3 minutes on each side then transfer to baking sheet(s) that have been rubbed with oil. Wipe the skillet with paper towels or cloth between batches then re-rub with oil each time. Place in preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes.
7. In a large mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese, egg, Parmesan cheese and herbs. Add spinach and mozzarella cheese and stir to combine.
8. Lay a slice of baked eggplant on a flat surface, spoon about 2 tablespoons of cheese mixture onto the smaller end of the eggplant. Roll the eggplant and place seam side down in a baking dish where the rolls fit snugly next to each other.
9. Spoon tomato sauce over each roll and bake, covered for 40 minutes. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and bake, uncovered for 5 minutes longer.
10. Transfer to a plate and sprinkle with fresh parsley. Enjoy!