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Monday, April 2, 2012

My New Favorite Fruit- Eggplant!

When I was a child one of my favorite meals was Eggplant Parmesan. My mother would slice the eggplant, dip it in egg, then bread crumbs, then fry it and add marinara and mozzarella cheese. I don't want to even know how many calories were in that recipe. In my mind eggplant was a high calorie food.

I was in disbelief when I read how low in calories eggplant is, free of all the additions of course. Can you believe a medium sized eggplant (which is enormous I might add) has only 110 calories and 62% of the recommended daily dietary fiber! This is definitely a diet "must eat"!

Specifics about the eggplant from Wikipedia:

The eggplant, aubergine, melongene, brinjal or guinea squash (Solanum melongena) is a plant of the family Solanaceae (also known as the nightshades) and genus Solanum. It bears a fruit of the same name, commonly used in cooking. As a nightshade, it is closely related to the tomato and potato. It is native to India.[1][2]
It is a delicate perennial often cultivated as an annual. It grows 40 to 150 cm (16 to 57 in) tall, with large coarsely lobed leaves that are 10 to 20 cm (4–8 in) long and 5 to 10 cm (2–4 in) broad. Semiwild types can grow much larger, to 225 cm (7 ft) with large leaves over 30 cm (12 in) long and 15 cm (6 in) broad. The stem is often spiny. The flowers are white to purple, with a five-lobed corolla and yellow stamens. The fruit is fleshy, has a meaty texture, and is less than 3 cm (1.2 in) in diameter on wild plants, but much larger in cultivated forms.

The fruit is botanically classified as a berry, and contains numerous small, soft seeds, which are edible, but have a bitter taste because they contain nicotinoid alkaloids; this is unsurprising as it is a close relative of tobacco.

Cooking info about the eggplant also from wikipedia:

The raw fruit can have a somewhat bitter taste, but becomes tender when cooked and develops a rich, complex flavor. Traditionally, recipes would advise the salting, rinsing and draining of the sliced fruit (known as "degorging") to soften it and to reduce the amount of fat absorbed during cooking, but mainly to remove the bitterness of the earlier cultivars. Some modern varieties - including those large, purple varieties commonly imported into western Europe - do not need this treatment. The fruit is capable of absorbing large amounts of cooking fats and sauces, allowing for very rich dishes, but the salting process will reduce the amount of oil absorbed. The fruit flesh is smooth; as in the related tomato, the numerous seeds are soft and edible along with the rest of the fruit. The thin skin is also edible, so peeling is not required.

The plant is used in cuisines from Japan to Spain. It is often stewed, as in the French ratatouille, the Italian parmigiana di melanzane, the Turkish karnıyarık or musakka, and Middle-Eastern and South Asian dishes. Eggplants can also be battered before deep-frying and served with a sauce made of tahini and tamarind. In Iranian cuisine, it can be blended with whey as kashk e-bademjan, tomatoes as mirza ghasemi or made into stew as khoresh-e-bademjan. It can be sliced and deep-fried, then served with plain yogurt, (optionally) topped with a tomato and garlic sauce, such as in the Turkish dish patlıcan kızartması (meaning: fried aubergines) or without yogurt as in patlıcan şakşuka. However, arguably the most famous Turkish eggplant dish duo is İmam bayıldı (vegetarian) and Karnıyarık (with minced meat).

It may also be roasted in its skin until charred, so the pulp can be removed and blended with other ingredients, such as lemon, tahini, and garlic, as in the Middle Eastern dish baba ghanoush and the similar Greek dish melitzanosalata. Grilled, mashed and mixed with onions, tomatoes and spices make the Indian dish baingan ka Bhartha or gojju, similar to salată de vinete in Romania, while a mix of roasted eggplant, roasted red peppers, chopped onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, carrots, celery and spices is called zacuscă in Romania or ajvar in Serbia and the Balkans. A simpler version of the dish, Begun-Pora (eggplant-charred or burnt), is popular in the east Indian state of Bengal and Bangladesh where the charred pulp is mixed with raw chopped onions, green chillies, salt and mustard oil. A Catalan dish called Escalivada calls for strips of roasted aubergine, sweet pepper, onion and tomato.

The fruit can also be stuffed with meat, rice, or other fillings and then baked. In the Caucasus, for example, it is fried and stuffed with walnut paste to make nigvziani badrijani. It can also be found in Chinese cuisine, braised (紅燒茄子), stewed (魚香茄子), steamed (凉拌茄子), or stuffed (釀茄子).

As a native plant, it is widely used in Indian cuisine, for example in sambhar, dalma (a dal preparation with vegetables, native to Orissa), chutney, curry, and achaar. Owing to its versatile nature and wide use in both everyday and festive Indian food, it is often described (under the name brinjal) as the "King of Vegetables". In one dish, brinjal is stuffed with ground coconut, peanuts, and masala

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