The Eggplant


On the menu:

Pasta with Roasted Eggplant and Tomatoes
Curried Eggplant
Melanzane alla Parmigiana - Eggplant Parmesan Style



Pasta with Roasted Eggplant and Tomatoes

Most eggplant pastas have a tendency to be rather oily because the eggplant is a very porous vegetable that absorbs every drop of oil it touches. To cook the eggplant without oil you could peel and boil it, but it will be absolutely tasteless. By baking the eggplant you eliminate the fat. The eggplant steams in its skin and remains very moist and flavorful. Just add tomato sauce, garlic, capers and the herb of your choice for a very satisfying dish. For a richer taste add a drop or two of extra virgin olive oil.

Serves 2 generously or makes 4 appetizer portions

Ingredients

1 large or 2 small globe eggplants
1/2 pound penne or rigatoni or pasta shells
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and coarsely chopped
pinch hot pepper flakes
2 teaspoons dried oregano or 4 tablespoons fresh chopped basil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (optional)


Cooking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Prick eggplant in a few places with a knife. Place on baking sheet and roast for about 40 minutes, turning occasionally for even cooking, until it's tender but not falling apart. When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, peel remove large seed pockets, and dice the pulp. Set it in a drainer to rid it of bitter juices.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water up to a boil. Drop in the pasta and stir.
  3. Warm the tomato sauce in a large sauté pan over moderate heat.
  4. Add the eggplant and the rest of the ingredients and warm through. (If you like you may stir in a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil for a bit of richness.)
  5. Season to taste. Adjust salt, pepper and hot pepper. If the tomatoes are tart, add a pinch of sugar to compensate. When the pasta is al dente, drain and toss with the sauce. Serve at once.

Nutrition Facts (appetizer portion):

Calories: 231
Fat: 2 grams
Saturated Fat: 0 grams
Sodium: 680 milligrams
Total Carbohydrates: 46 grams
Dietary Fiber: 7 grams
Protein: 9 grams
% calories from fat: 6%
% calories from saturated fat: 0%

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Curried Eggplant

This dish is creamy and rich with a little kick. If it is too hot, stir in a little yogurt to temper the spices. Serve with steamed basmati rice and a bowl of raita.

Serves 6

Ingredients

2 to 3 medium globe eggplants, each weighing about one pound
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped yellow onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup grated ginger root
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne or more to taste
lemon juice to taste
yogurt (optional)
optional: 1 cup diced tomatoes
optional: 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro


Cooking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Place the eggplant in a baking pan and prick them with a fork. Bake until very tender, about 3/4 hour. Set in a drainer.
  3. When cool enough to handle, peel the eggplant, discard any large seed pockets, and transfer the pulp to a strainer.
  4. Coarsely chop the eggplant or pulse quickly in a food processor.
  5. In a medium sauté pan over moderate heat, warm the olive oil and cook the onions until translucent, about 10 minutes.
  6. Add the garlic, ginger and spices and cook for five minutes. Add the eggplant. Heat through and then season with salt and pepper and lemon juice to taste.
  7. Then add yogurt if the eggplant needs a smoothing out of flavor.
  8. Chopped tomatoes may be added at end. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Nutrition Facts:

Calories: 160
Fat: 10 grams
Saturated Fat: 1 grams
Sodium: 9 milligrams
Total Carbohydrates: 18 grams
Dietary Fiber: 6 grams
Protein: 3 grams
% calories from fat: 52%
% calories from saturated fat: 7%

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Raita

Ingredients

1 pint non-fat plain yogurt, drained for 2 hours
1 cup finely diced cucumber
1 cup peeled, seeded and diced tomato
2 -3 tablespoons grated onion
salt and pepper
optional: 2 tablespoons toasted cumin seeds
3 -4 tablespoons chopped mint or cilantro

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Mix well.

Nutrition Facts (per cup):

Calories: 65
Fat: 0 grams
Saturated Fat: 0 grams
Sodium: 219 milligrams
Total Carbohydrates: 13 grams
Dietary Fiber: 1 gram
Protein: 6 grams
% calories from fat: 2%
% calories from saturated fat: 0%

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Melanzane alla Parmigiana - Eggplant Parmesan Style

Parmesan cheese comes from the north of Italy, but this dish is decidedly from the south. So why the odd name? In Sicily the word for shutter is palmigiana. The overlapping pieces of eggplant resemble shutters, therefore eggplant "alla palmigiana." In the Southern Italian classic the eggplant is fried, layered with tomato sauce and slices of mozzarella or cacciocavallo cheese and topped with bread crumbs and grated pecorino or parmesan cheese. Sometimes onions or hard boiled eggs, even bits of salami may be added. This dish is ideal for entertaining as it can be assembled ahead of time and baked when needed. It reheats well too. And it can be a main dish meal accompanied by a green salad and some crusty bread.

Serves 6

Ingredients

3 medium globe eggplants
Salt
Olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cups peeled, diced and seeded tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese


Cooking Instructions:

  1. Peel the eggplants and slice about 1/2 inch thick. Sprinkle with salt and drain in a colander for 30 minutes. Rinse and pat dry.
  2. Heat 1/4 inch olive oil in a large sauté pan, preferably nonstick, and quickly sauté the eggplant, turning once, and drain on absorbent towels. Add oil only as needed as the eggplant will drink more than it needs.
  3. To the oil remaining in the pan, add the sliced onion and cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes until they achieve a saucelike consistency.
  5. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Layer some tomato sauce in a baking dish. Then eggplant, then sauce, then eggplant, then eggs, sauce. Top with sauce and grated cheese and crumbs.
  7. Bake in 400° oven for about 20 minutes or until golden. Let rest 15 minutes before serving.

Nutrition Facts:

Calories: 195
Fat: 8 grams
Saturated Fat: 2 grams
Sodium: 340 milligrams
Total Carbohydrates: 25 grams
Dietary Fiber: 7 grams
Protein: 8 grams
% calories from fat: 36%
% calories from saturated fat: 11%

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