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TIP OF THE DAY: Eggplant, Three Ways

From noodle-free lasagna to vegetable soup or gumbo to a goat cheese and eggplant sandwich, eggplant is a versatile ingredient. It can find its way into caponata*, casseroles, dips, mixed grilled veggies, pasta dishes, stews and more.

Eggplant is low in calories and fat, while boasting a high fiber content. While available year-round, summer is peak harvesting time for the familiar purple “globe” eggplant, so the prices are the best. Look for shiny, smooth skin that isn’t wrinkled or dimpled.

Executive Chef Tom Leo of Grecian Delight, producer of delicious Mediterranean specialties, shares his tips for perfecting eggplant preparation, plus a delectable baba ganoush recipe.
 
*A Sicilian dish of eggplant, tomatoes, capers, pine nuts and basil, usually served as a side dish or relish.

RECIPE: SIMPLE ROASTED EGGPLANT

Oven roasted eggplant requires only a few ingredients and simple steps to deliver a rich, smoky flavor.

Ingredients

  • Eggplant, approximately 1 pound
  • Olive oil
  • Seasonings: salt, pepper, oregano, parsley etc.
  •    
    roast-eggplant-Elena_Danileiko-230

    Simple roasted eggplant. Dress it up with tomato sauce and cheese. Photo by Elena Danileiko | IST.

     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. While the oven is heating, trim the stem and the bottom off of the eggplant and cut it in half, lengthwise.

    2. SCORE the flesh of the eggplant, but not all the way through to the skin. Brush lightly with olive oil and bake for 30-40, minutes depending on the size. Let it cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

    3. SEASON with salt, pepper, oregano or other favorite spices and herbs. Optionally drizzle with a bit of olive oil or top with crumbled feta, goat cheese or an Italian grating cheese. Or, top with tomato sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan for Eggplant Parmesan.
     
    RECIPE: EASY GRILLED EGGPLANT

    The optional yogurt mint sauce can be made two days in advance.

    Ingredients

  • Eggplant, approximately 1 pound
  • Kosher salt
  • Olive oil
  • Seasonings: salt, pepper, oregano, parsley etc.
  •  
    For The Yogurt-Mint Sauce

  • 7 ounces plain Greek yogurt
  • 6 green onions, chopped (white and green parts)
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, minced
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  •  

    homemade  Baba Ghanoush
    Babaganoush, one of our favorite dips. Photo
    © Fanfo | Dreamstime.
      Preparation

    1. PREPARE the yogurt sauce (recipe below).

    2. TRIM the eggplant by cutting off the stem and bottom, then cut the eggplant into thick, one-inch slices.

    3. SEASON the slices with a generous amount of salt and place them on a paper towel-lined sheet or colander for 30 minutes. This is to draw moisture out of the eggplant. Rinse and pat dry.

    4. COAT the sides of the eggplant slices with olive oil and grill over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes per side. Top with a refreshing yogurt and mint sauce or enjoy it on its own.
     
    Preparation: Yogurt Mint Sauce

    1. COMBINE the green onions, mint, dill, red pepper flakes, olive oil and lemon juice in a food processor and puree until into a coarse paste.

    2. ADD the yogurt, salt, and pepper and pulse until combined.

    3. TRANSFER to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight to allow the flavors to develop.

     
    RECIPE: PURÉED EGGPLANT DIP, BABAGANOUSH

    Babaganoush (pronounced baba-gah-NOOSH) is hummus’ eggplant cousin, a creamy spread based on eggplant instead of chickpeas. It can be used as a dip or spread, and added to sandwiches instead of mayonnaise.

    Ingredients

  • Eggplant, approximately 1 pound
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional garnish: chopped parsley
  • Pita, crackers, crudités, etc.
  •  
    Preparation

    1. ROAST a whole eggplant (about 1 pound) at 450°F: Prick in several places with a fork and place on a foil-lined baking sheet; bake for 20 minutes and let cool.

    2. CUT the eggplant in half lengthwise, drain off the liquid and scoop the pulp into a food processor. Process until smooth and transfer to a bowl.

    3. COMBINE the garlic and salt until a paste forms; add to the eggplant along with the parsley, tahini and lemon juice. Season to taste.

    4. GARNISH with optional chopped parsley and serve with fresh or toasted pita wedges, pita chips, crackers and/or crudités.

      




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