Wednesday, 18 February 2009
Eggplant is my secret love. I sneak it in whenever I can.
Jonas, the vegetarian, despises eggplant. He abhors the texture and protests at the taste.
Imagine being a vegetarian and not liking eggplant? It's a disability. Truly.
Usually, when Jonas isn't home, I take the opportunity to cook fish or meat but one night I seized the chance to use eggplant. And the best eggplant dish of all has got to be eggplant parmigiana.
Nonna would make the most delectable melazane all parmigiana and we'd all fight over it. Except for Ludo, whose gluten intolerance meant Nonna used rice flour and made Ludo her own sacred batch.
Inspired by memories of Nonna's melanzane, I decided to make my own eggplant and cheese bake. The results were magnificent and I ate 3 servings! Jonas found some leftovers when he came home and ate them, declaring it was so good he could forget that it was eggplant.
High praise indeed.
Melanzane alla Parmigiana
Anna’s very own recipe. Serves 2 as a side dish or 1 as an indulgent dinner.
1 medium eggplant
1 egg, whisked
½ cup fine breadcrumbs
½ cup shredded mozzarella
½ cup grated parmigiano
Seasoned flour, for dusting
Oil, for frying
300ml passata (tomato sauce)
1 dried small red chilli, sliced finely
2 garlic cloves, crushed
¼ cup white wine
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch each of salt, pepper and sugar
1. Preheat oven to 180’C
2. Slice eggplant into 1.5cm rounds. Dust with salt and sandwich between two paper towels and cutting boards weighed down with cans. This will draw out some of the extra moisture in the eggplant.
3. Meanwhile make the sauce. In a pan with a lid, heat the olive oil and fry the garlic and chilli until softened.
4. Add the white wine and bring to the boil. Evaporate the alcohol for 2 minutes then return to a low heat.
5. Add the oregano, passata, salt, pepper and sugar then simmer gently with the lid on.
6. Start heating oil to shallow fry eggplant.
7. Remove the eggplant, wash off the salt and pat dry with paper towels.
8. Dust eggplant slices with seasoned flour, then dip in egg and coat with breadcrumbs. Drop into the oil and cook until golden brown on both sides (3-4 minutes). Don’t over crowd the frying pan and be sure to drain finished slices on paper towels.
9. In a baking dish, coat the base with a little tomato sauce. Layer eggplant in a single layer, slightly overlapping each other.
10. Cover with mozzarella and then parmigiano and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until cheese has melted and is starting to brown on the edges. Serve with crusty bread and a good glass of wine.
Eggplant are part of the Solanaceae, or nightshade, family that includes tomatoes, bell peppers and potatoes.
They grow hanging from vines and have a bitter taste and spongy texture. Originally they were used as a decorative plant because the bitterness of the original cultivars made people believe that eating them would cause insanity, leprosy and cancer.
Once cultivars lost their bitter taste, in the 18th century, they soon became very popular.
Eggplants are native to India but it’s believed they were first cultivated in China (5th century B.C.E.) where the first written record was recorded in an ancient agricultural treatise.
Given the numerous Arabic names for eggplant, but the few Greek and Latin names, it is believed that eggplant was introduced to Europe, during the Middle Ages, through North Africa then the Mediterranean.
Even in the English speaking world the name of this vegetable is debated. In the UK it’s known as aubergine, in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand we call it eggplant and in South Africa they call it by its Indian name brinjal.
Eggplants contain phytonutrients, many of which have antioxidant activity. For instance nasunin, which is found in eggplant skin, is believed to be a potent antioxidant and free radical scavenger that protects cell membranes. Chlorogenic acid, also found in eggplant, has anti-cancer, antimicrobial, anti-cholesterol and antiviral properties.
Wikipedia says wggplants are a high source of “dietary fibre, potassium, manganese, copper and thiamin (vitamin B1). It is also a good source of vitamin B6, folate, magnesium and niacin.” Yep, I believe it.
On the negative side, eggplant is among the few foods that contain measurable amounts of oxalates, meaning people with kidney or gallbladder problems should avoid eating eggplants, which may cause stones.
Eggplant also contains more nicotine than any other edible plant, however you’d need to eat 9kgs (20lbs) to get the same levels as one cigarette.
Eggplants come in a variety of colours, shapes and sizes. When purchasing, choose onbe that is firm and heavy for the size, has smooth and shiny skin with vivid colouring.
According to Wikipedia, today the top producers are, in order: China, India, Egypt, Turkey, Indonesia, Iraq, Japan, Italy, Sudan and the United Kingdom.
This is my contribution to Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Susan from the Well Seasoned Cook.
Other Morsels & Musings eggplant recipes:
Aubergine & Ricotta Rolls
Bouranee Baunjan (Afghani-style eggplant w yoghurt)
Caponata (Italian anchovy & roasted vegetable salsa)
Grilled Eggplant w Tahini-Yoghurt Dressing
Melanzane al Forno (Italian baked eggplant)
Sambal Tuwung (Indonesian eggplant salad)
Other blogger's eggplant recipes:
Aloo Baingan (potato & eggplant curry) - Delectable Vegetarian Recipes
Baba Ghanouj (Lebanese smoky eggplant dip) - Simply Recipes
Eggplant Clafoutis - Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska
Eggplant Ricotta Timbales - Christine Cooks
Etsiz Patlican Güveç (Turkish eggplant stew) - Almost Turkish
Fried Eggplant w Walnut & Mint Sauce - What Did You Eat?
Grilled Eggplants w Korean BBQ Sauce - Fat Free Vegan Kitchen
Honey Garlic Grilled Eggplant - Beyond Salmon
Indonesian-style Eggplant w Spicy Peanut Sauce - Love and Olive Oil
Mediterranean Eggplant & Barley Salad - Smitten Kitchen
Moussaka - Je Mange la Ville
Quail Eggs stuffed w Cashew & Eggplant Puree - La Tartine Gourmande
Sabich (Iraqi-Jewish eggplant salad) - Herbivoracious
Sichuan Eggplant - Fearless Kitchen
Tunisian Eggplant Salad - Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once
Yakinasu (Japanese-style grilled eggplant) - Apple Pie, Patis & Pâté
References & Photo:
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