Tag Archives: eggplant

Baked Eggplant Italiano

This is my  version of a healthier eggplant parmigiana dish. Yes it can be done! I did not use any breadcrumbs and I didn’t fry the eggplant. That is where most of the fat and calories come from. Don’t get me wrong, I love the old-fashioned breaded and fried version of this dish but I just can’t have the extra fat and calories anymore. Plus it takes forever to fry it all! Next in line with the fat is the cheese used. I used a shredded, reduced fat 4 cheese Italian mix. It has reduced fat mozzarella, smoked provolone, Asiago and Romano cheese. It’s made with 2% milk so it has 33% less fat and 10% fewer calories than the full fat version. I broiled the slices of eggplant on a cookie sheet under the broiler and only sprayed them with olive oil cooking spray. The dish came out great. It is very filling even without all the extra bread crumbs! I really enjoy eggplant and this time I remembered to make it pretty soon after I bought it. I have a tendency to buy it and forget it’s in the refrigerator for days. Then when I go to use it, it’s all brown and spotty inside. Yuck! So this time I bought it and cooked it the next day! Remember when buying an eggplant the top crown should be green and not brown. Brown is bad, means it’s been there a while and not fresh. By the way, the leftovers are just as good as the first time too! (I started to cut the eggplant before I remembered to take a picture)

INGREDIENTS:

1 large eggplant

olive oil cooking spray

marinara or your choice of pasta sauce

Parmesan cheese, grated

garlic powder

2 cups reduced fat shredded Italian cheese of choice (Sargento’s 4 Italian Cheese is great)


DIRECTIONS:

1. Peel eggplant. Slice it lengthwise or if you prefer, round. For this recipe I sliced it lengthwise.

2. Set your oven to broil and place the rack about 4 inches under the broiler. Spray 1-2 cookie sheets with the cooking spray.

3. Place eggplant in a single layer onto cookie sheets. Spray tops of eggplant with cooking spray and sprinkle with garlic powder. Broil eggplant 4-5 minutes on each side. When you flip the eggplant spray again with cooking spray. Keep an eye on the slices as they can easily burn. They should be lightly browned on the edges and soft. Do this until all eggplant is broiled. After eggplant is done, move the rack to the middle and set your oven to 350º.

4. In a square Pyrex or other oven proof baking dish put a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the dish. Lay eggplant slices on bottom slightly overlapping till you have one layer. It should take about 3 large slices. Next add sauce to top of eggplant and spread a thin layer over it. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and about ¼ cup of the shredded cheese. Place another layer of eggplant, again overlapping slightly. I placed this layer in the other direction to give it more stability. Again apply sauce and cheeses. Continue until you have no eggplant left. Finish with shredded cheese on top.

5. Place the dish into the 350º oven and bake until sauce is bubbling and the cheese is all melted. About 15-20 minutes should do it. Remove from oven and let sit 5-10 minutes to let the sauce set up. It’s ok if it’s a little runny. Cut and serve!

This dish is great with a nice salad on the side or even a small dish of pasta.

Serves 2-4

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Caponata (Eggplant Salad)

Eggplant is a very versatile vegetable. There’s more to eggplant than eggplant parmigiana. Caponata is served cold on pita bread triangles or crusty bruschetta. It can be used in antipasto as well, again many uses! One of the best things about this little dish is that it can also be frozen! So if you make too much it won’t go to waste. Caponata is primarily a Sicilian pheasant dish but there are many other regional varieties. This is also a great vegetarian dish and healthy one as well! Bonus!

INGREDIENTS:

1 large eggplant

½-¾ cup olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped red onion

8 ounces tomato sauce

½ cup kalamata or black olives, chopped

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS:

1. Cut unpeeled eggplant into small cubes after washing well. In a large skillet, heat ½ cup olive oil over medium high heat and add eggplant.

2. Saute until browned, about 10 minutes. Add the onion, celery, and red pepper. Cook and stir until the vegetables are crisp and tender.

3. Add more oil, if necessary. Stir in tomato sauce, olives, vinegar and salt. Simmer uncovered, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Remove from heat. Cool and refrigerate.

Makes about 4 cups

Eggplant Balls

Eggplant isn’t just for Eggplant Parmigiana or Ratatouille. This is a great vegetarian “meatball”. They can be fried, baked or just put into the sauce and cooked that way. They can be used in an antipasto also! Eggplant is very versatile and this is a new twist on preparing it! Even kids will love these! Serve it with spaghetti or pasta that you like. It goes great in a fresh marinara sauce to don’t be afraid, try it, you’ll like it!

Eggplant Balls

INGREDIENTS:

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 large eggplant, peeled and diced

1 tablespoon water

1 cup of Italian seasoned bread crumbs

½ cup fresh parsley, chopped

2 eggs, beaten

½ cup grated cheese of choice

olive oil

marinara sauce, if desired

grated mozzarella cheese, if desired

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a large saucepan, heat oil and gently sauté garlic until golden brown. Add the diced eggplant, the tablespoon of water and cover. Reduce heat and gently steam until eggplant is very soft.

2. In a mixing bowl, combine eggplant, bread crumbs, parsley, eggs, and cheese. Mix well and let stand 20 minutes. Form into balls and fry on all sides in olive oil.

OPTION:

Place eggplant balls on a greased pan and bake in the oven for 30 minutes at 325°. They can then be covered in marinara sauce and sprinkled with grated mozzarella cheese.

OR you can drop them in spaghetti sauce and serve in place of meatballs!

Serves 4-6

Buying Fresh Fruits & Vegetables at Their Peak (Part 2)

As promised here is the list of when it is the best time to buy fresh vegetables, when they are in season.  What are the best vegetable to buy now? Or in 3 months from now?  Right now in Florida where I live the corn is just starting to come out where in the north it won’t be at its best until August or September. I remember when we spent the summers in Maine as kids and we couldn’t wait for August because we’d go to the farm stands and get all of that delicious sweet yellow and white corn, fresh from the farms. It was so crunchy and sweet and you could eat 2 or 3 ears at a sitting without any problem.  Some vegetables are great all year-long which is a good thing! I hope this information helps out when you’re shopping. Another thing when you are buying items at their peak they are usually the best price as well. So keep that in mind as well! Happy shopping and eat your veggies!

  • Artichokes: March-May: Look for heavy, compact, plump globes. Large tightly closed, fleshy leaf scales. Good green color. Heavy for size.
  • Asparagus: March-June: Look for tightly closed buds. Straight, tender, rich green stalks. Open tips and angular or ridged spears are signs of over maturity.
  • Green/Wax Beans: April-October: Look for crisp, long, straight, blemish-free pods.
  • Lima Beans: April-August: Look for bright color for the variety. Crisp, dark-green, well-filled pods.
  • Beets: June-October: Look for firm, round, smooth, deep red-colored roots. Fresh-looking tops. Avoid those with long roots and rough, scaly areas on surface, because they are tough, fibrous and strong flavored.
  • Belgian Endive: October-May: Look for firm without bruises. Color should be white with greenish cast.
  • Broccoli: October-May: Look for firm, closed, dark-green florets. Firm, tender stalks. Yellowing green-colored heads of broccoli are over mature.
  • Brussel Sprouts: October-November: Look for miniature, compact, bright-green heads.
  • Cabbage: All Year: Look for well-trimmed, solid heads. Heavy for size.
  • Carrots: All Year: Look for firm, bright-colored, smooth, clean, well-shaped. Avoid rough, cracked or green-tinged roots.
  • Cauliflower: September-November: Look for bright-green leaves enclosing firm, closely packed creamy-white curd or florets. Avoid bruised or open florets.
  • Celery: All Year: Look for fresh, crisp branches. Light green to green color. Should not have wilted, rough look or puffy feel to the stalk.
  • Corn: May-September: Look for fresh-leaved, green husks. Plump, milky kernels. Avoid cobs with small or large, dented or shrunken kernels.
  • Cucumbers: May-August: Look for bright, shiny green; firm; well-shaped.
  • Eggplant: August-September: Look for firm, heavy, smooth, even dark purple. Free of bruises or cuts.
  • Lettuce: All Year: Look for fresh green leaves with no wilted or bruised areas. Heading varieties of lettuce should be medium weight for size.
  • Mushrooms: November-April: Look for dry, firm caps and stems. Small brown spots or open caps are still good in flavor.
  • Okra: May-September: Should have tender, bright-green, bruise-free pods, less than 4½ inches long. Pale, faded, hard pods are tough and fibrous.
  • Onions: All Year: Look for well-shaped; hard; small necks. Dry paper skins. Free of green spots or green-depressed leathery areas. Crisp green tops. Two to three-inch bleached-white roots.
  • Parsnips: October-April: Should be small to medium size; smooth-skinned; firm. Decay and bruise free.
  • Peas: April-July: Look for well-filled, bright green. Swollen, light-colored or gray-flecked pods contain tough, starchy peas.
  • Peppers: All Year: Look for good shape; firm exterior; thick flesh and bright, glossy skin.
  • Potatoes (White): All Year: Should be fairly smooth; well-shaped; firm. Free of most blemishes. Avoid bruised, sprouting, shriveled or green-tinged.
  • Potatoes (Sweet): September-December: Look for thick, chunky, medium-sized with no bruises or decay. Should taper at the end.
  • Radishes: May-July: Look for medium-sized (¾-1 inch diameter); good red color; plump; round; firm; crisp. Bright-green tops.
  • Spinach: March-May: Look for large, bright, blemish-free leaves with good green color. Yellowing indicates the start of decay. Avoid leaves with coarse stems.
  • Squash (Summer): June-August: Look for bright color; smooth; glassy skin. Heavy for the size; firm; well-shaped.
  • Squash (Winter): September-November: Should be heavy for the size. Hard, good-colored, unblemished rind.
  • Tomatoes: May-August: Should be well-formed; blemish-free; plump. Over all rich red color and slight softness.
  • Turnips/Rutabagas: September-March: Should be small to medium size; smooth; firm; heavy. Few leaf scars at top and few fibrous roots at base. Purple-tinged white ones are turnips. Yellow-skinned, larger roots are rutabagas.

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