Friday, October 10, 2008

Eggplant, So Misunderstood

On those days (most days) when I am following my rigid, yet very effective, high-fiber diet, I often dream about eating other, tastier delicacies. You see, contrary to some popular opinion, I am a human being and not a robot conditioned and programmed for non-stop healthy living. Yes, I take pride in eating right, every day, as well as taking daily walks and engaging in all sorts of healthy activities. But, just like most of you, I, too, would love nothing better than to sink my teeth into decadence, often desiring to dump out my bowl of olive oil-laden veggies and nutritious salad and indulge in…what?

Well, as I mentioned earlier, I dream of my weekend “cheat treats” during those more challenging days of the regular week. And when I am not fantasizing about devouring a slab of my mom‘s lasagna, my mouth waters at the thought of another of my favorite Italian gourmet delights: Eggplant Parmesan.

I love eggplant. As a vegetarian, I am always in search of great veggies to add to the haul that I consume daily. Prepared correctly, eggplant parm, and eggplant in general, will melt in your mouth and send your taste buds to gastronomical heaven. As I said, I love eggplant, but didn’t always. Just the name connotes unsavory images.

Egg? Plant?

Yeech!

Like broccoli, mushrooms, onions, even olives, these were all foods, along with eggplant, that I refused to eat during my younger years. All foods, I might add, that I absolutely love now, as a somewhat-adult.

But eggplant? Is it a plant that grows eggs? Could that be possible? Who in their right mind would eat such an oddly named thing? Let’s explore this often misunderstood vegetable.

Eggplants grow on vines, like tomatoes. They are spongy in texture and slightly bitter tasting.

Sound yummy? No? Read on.

While eggplant has been around for thousands of years, it wasn’t always well liked by certain cultures. Because of its bitter taste, some thought it also had a bitter disposition: it was thought, at one time, to cause leprosy, cancer, and insanity. The good news is that has all changed. In fact, eggplant is loaded with phenolic compounds that function as antioxidants. Meaning that consumption of eggplant helps combat cancer, rather than causing it.

Eggplant is also a very good source of potassium and manganese, Vitamins B1 and B6, folate and magnesium. One cup also has 3 grams of fiber and 1 gram of protein. Besides those healthy antioxidants, regular consumption of eggplant has been found to help reduce bad cholesterol, fight heart disease, and improve cardiovascular health. Now all we need to do is find a few ways to eat it.

But first you need to buy a few. While eggplants come in many varieties, most of us are accustom to the fat purple variety that I am holding in my hand. To test for ripeness, gently press the skin and, if it is ripe, it should spring back. Store in a cool, but not too hot or too cold, place, and once you cut one open you should eat it soon--they perish fast. Now let’s dig in!

Besides being an amazing veggie in my favorite (sorry, mom) Italian dish, eggplant also tastes great baked, stir-fried, stuffed, and used in another dish that I love to eat: babaganoush.

Huh?

Babaganoush is similar to hummus in that it is a Middle Eastern spread and dip made with eggplant rather than chic peas (garbanzo beans). I use soy crisps or strips of pita bread to dip into these two tasty treats. As a spread or eaten with sticks of veggies (carrots, celery, cucumbers), babaganoush is an excellent way to add eggplant to your diet.

If you have been avoiding eggplant, like I once did as kid, just because it sounds strange, or have yet to try it because your ancestors told you it may cause leprosy (believe me, it doesn’t!), take my advice and give it a shot. If you love lasagna (and who doesn’t?) then try eggplant Parmesan. And if you are in the mood to try something different, then dip a chip into a bowl of babaganoush. Or scoop out the center of an eggplant, load it up with just about anything, cover with breadcrumbs and some cheese, and pop it in the oven. You will be amazed at how tasty this misunderstood veggie can be.

Until next time…

peace,

Mike

39 comments:

Sandee (Comedy +) said...

Well, if you can drown that eggplant in something it might be edible. Hubby loves it and I'll pass. I'm glad you love it. Now that Lasagna sounds really, really good. Just saying. Have a great weekend Mike. :)

Mike Golch said...

Mike, the eggplant parmaesan sound good to me both my Bh and her Mom make a mean dish.
let's see how many time I have to type in the word verication this time. attempt #2

Wayne said...

I like to give them a good *thwack* just because it sounds cool on them. Maybe that's just me though.

To be honest, I don't recall ever trying one. Eggplant Parmesan sounds tasty though. May just give that a try next time we do Italian.

lina said...

Eggplant parmesan and in lasagna sounds nice, after reading your post. Wouldn't have thought it'll be the case. Maybe I'll try them out one of these days. :)

Faisal Admar said...

i love egg plant. mom would simply cook it with some garlic, oil and chilies. it's so yummy to eat with our base food -- rice.

Evelyn Lim said...

I love eggplant! I used to detest it but have a craving for it nowadays! It's absolutely delicious! Yes, eggplant fried with garlic and chilli is yummy!

PaulsHealthBlog.com said...

Red Sox win!

(Oh yeah, did you write something about eggplant?)

Dan Brantley said...

Mike,
I'm working on an eggplant, jicama, avocado lasagna that promises to be fiberlicious!

Meanwhile, any thoughts on brussel sprouts? I volunteer at the local high school cafeteria and the cooks version is great.

Piedro Molinero said...

Eggplant is really a very interesting vegetable and you can prepare so many dishes out of it. I especially enjoy moussaka, a greek recipe, or just in olive oil fried eggplants, like they used to be eaten for starters here in Cyprus.

Eric S. said...

Thanks Mike, I'll have to experiment with eggplant. It's one of those veggies that I have never tried, not because it sounds weird or anything, just because I have never taken the opportunity.

I wonder if there are any recipes to mix eggplant and mushrooms, I simply love mushrooms.

A. said...

Babganoush is delicious! My DIL introduced me to it this summer. The other dish I've known and liked for a long time is moussaka.

Aubergines, as we know them in Europe, are also widely used in Indian cookery where they are called brinjal. More deliciousness :)

Mike Foster said...

sandee: eggplant plain is not a pretty sight...smothered in tomato sauce...ahhh...great weekend to you too!

mike: one of my all time fav dishes...eggplant parm

wayne: they do have a fun sound when ya thwack em....

lina: go for it!

faisal: that sounds great...garlic is my next nutrition post, by the way...

evelyn: gotta try it fried with garlic very soon...

paul: what post about eggplant? GO SOX!! 4 down, 7 to go...

dan: r u making fun of me? I hope you are, since that recipe doesn't sound so hot. I love brussel sprouts, and like them with maranara sauce, believe it or not

piedro: thanks for adding that excellent info: I forgot to mention moussaka...thanks for the links, too...

eric: how about pizza topped with mushrooms and eggplant? throw in some jicama and avocado for dan...

a: aubergines...hmmm, cool. and babaganoush and hummus are fav snacks for me...


Thanks for all the great comments on this very slow computer night of entrecard dropping...


peace,

mike

Gandalf and Grayson said...

Our Mom's entire family LOVES eggplant, especially eggplant parm!

Natural said...

Mike this is one thing i can't eat. I guess maybe hidden in chocolate I could, otherwise, na na.

Leet said...

I am basically a person who eat almost everything, and most of them junk.... eegplant parmaesan sounds good to me. I should now think about heathy food & living... Nice post - cheers

Teasas Tips said...

Alright Mike, the next trip to the grocery store, I will try eggplant...only because you make it sound so darn good! Have stop by my other blog and enter the domain and hosting giveaway...its a halloween thing...

jodapoet said...

I love eggplant. My Mom used to make eggplant mousaka when we were young and I could never get enough of it. I have to admit I don't eat it much now as I'm not really sure how to cook it. I do order it when out for dinner. Thanks for the healthy tips.

Anna said...

Eggplant Parmesan and Babaganoush...YUM! I don't think I've had it in veggie lasagna, though. It's usually been mushrooms, tomatoes and zucchini in the ones I've had.

Jennifer said...

Eggplant -- it is tasty and can be cooked without soaking up too much oil. I loved breaded and fried eggplant when I was a kid, but can't bring myself to make it now, though I do make a lasagna with eggplant and feta cheese (the recipe is not particularly Italian; my apologies to your Italian-by-marriage mother).

Thanks for another informative post!

Dyan Garris said...

I find that if you soak the eggplant in a little salt water it takes any bitterness away. It's really the seeds that make for the bitter. Eggplant can actually takes kind of sweet sometimes. I'm Greek and make Moussaka all the time. I planted eggplant in the garden this year and I kept waiting for them to turn purple. The thing is unbeknownst to me they weren't the purple kind. They are a variety - green eggplant. I'd not heard of or seen these before. They're interesting because the ripe skin is golden yellow. The eggplant itself turns green when you fry it. It's really quite odd, but interestingly tasty.

Mike Foster said...

gandalf and grayson: smart family

natural: never tried it with chocolate...let me know how it tastes...

leet: eating healthy is a good thing...and so is eggplant parm

teasa: hope you enjoy it, and I will drop by

jodapoet: that makes two of us...I will order me some mousaka whenever I get the chance

anna: slice it thin and add it to the veggie lasagna, you'll be glad ya did

jennifer: Italian or not, still makes my mouth water

dyan: good tip, soaking it in salt water to remove bitterness...and I've grown eggplant, back when I had my garden, which now has inspired me to start one up again next spring...


peace,

mike

Martin Miller-Yianni said...

Egg plant sliced covering dips in foulr and fired in shallow oil it a top food here in Bulgaria. Only home grown eggplants will do though, supermarket produce just doesn't do it!

Great Blog!

feefifoto said...

Were you aware that eggplant got its name because originally it was white?

"Eggplants got their name because eggplants used to come in only one color--white. Hanging from the plant, they looked like eggs. The problem was that when they were shipped, they tended to bruise and scar easily. So the hybridizers went to work to develop an eggplant that wouldn't scar and in the process widened the variety."

From http://www.producepete.com/shows/eggplant.html

feefifoto said...

PS: have you ever tried eggplant slices on a grill with some olive oil, salt and pepper? yum.

Chen,Shun-Chuan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
"Δημήτριος ο Ταξιδευτής" said...

mike i will suggest to do the following
cut the eggplant in two halves
put them in a pot with fresh milk and leave them overnight.
then put them in the oven wrapped with an aluminium foil and bake them for 1 hour in 250.
put them out spread over minced garlig olive oil few drops balsamico vinegar salt and peper.
open a bottle of white riesling wine and bon appetit...

Dan Brantley said...

Poking a little fiberlicious fun Mike.

I have heard brushing the sprouts with a little oil and broiling is great. That is what I plan to try next. I have not heard of eatign them with marinara. How do you prepare them first?

DhoyM said...

Just had eggplant parmesan few minutes ago. This veggie is one of my favorites

Mike Foster said...

martin: agreed, grow it yourself for better taste and freshness

feefifoto: wow, interesting, didn't know what. so, the hybridizers developed an eggplant the color of a bruise so it wouldn't look like one...

feefifoto: one more time...no, but sounds delicious

my friend: mmmmmm, love garlic and olive oil, may have to try that one, thanks

dan: just steam or boil the brussel sprouts and then add to some marinara sauce, dash of olive oil, some parm cheese on top...a good way to disguise a veggie for the kids or other veggie challenged folk

dhoym: now i'm jealous...


peace,

mike

Shemah said...

Eggplant was one of the few veggies that I used to avoid.. up until I gave birth to my firstborn. Suddenly, I was craving for eggplant and now, it's one of my fave vegs.

I simply love grilled eggplants, or made into tempura. But also love it the way faisal described. Sauteed with garlic.. YUM! :)

Kim said...

You've convinced me. I will get one on my next trip to the store and try it. Have a great week!

betchai said...

i love eggplant, i love anyway it is cooked. but maybe my favorite would be grilled or steamed eggplant salad which the dressing is simply spicy vinegar, some chopped garlic, onions and tomatoes. yummy!

of course, i love eggplant parmesan and lasgana too, and also, eggplant omelette. whatever, as long as it is eggplant :)

April said...

I love eggplant as long as it's cooked right. My fav is fried. I've tasted some that weren't cooked right, and they had a bitter taste to them. Great post.

Mike Foster said...

shemah: garlic and eggplant...can't go wrong with that

kim: hope you like it

betchai: another amazing eggplant recipe...thanks

april: yes, eggplant has to be prepared right for the best taste...


peace,

mike

Sue said...

I've tried eggplant parm. along time ago. I love hummus.So that babaganoush sound interesting. Maybe I'll try it sometime. You must be able to make smaller portions though. It calls for 3 eggplants, that seems like a lot.

(I'm not to happy about the score right now 5-1. I hope the Sox snap out of it soon.)

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Mike,
I came across your place via Robin. Had to enjoy this post as I always refrained from egg plant until a few months ago came across them at our local farmers market. They looked so good I had to try one, and now am indulging every week. My favourite is quick fried then slathered with homemade tomato sauce and bit of cheese to bubble under the broiler. A meal in itself. Also have been using in stir fry, and with plain old fashioned roast veges as well. They take on a beatiful chewy texture I love. Cheers.Enjoy your place here.
Robb

Mike Foster said...

sue: wish I had some babaganoush right now to help get me through that game...maybe the Sox only feel comfortable when down 3-1?

ruahines: glad you dropped by...that recipe sounds easy and delicious...the best kind...cheers


peace,

mike

Free Music said...

yeah it is misunderstood

Barry said...

My youngest daughter is a vegetarian and when she asked her 5 year old what kid of birthday cake she wanted, she was told "eggplant".

So that's what we had.

Of course that would have been the last thing I would have asked for at age 5.