The challenge of cooking eggplant
It’s clearly harvest time when the farmers’ markets fill up with an abundance of vegetables. Among them, it’s time for the deeply purple eggplant to take center stage.
I don’t know about you, but I find cooking eggplant to be very challenging. Nevertheless, it is such a low-calorie vegetable that it would be a big loss not to enjoy it. The main problem of cooking eggplant is to figure out how to keep it chewy or incorporate its soft texture into a dish.
After researching this problem with cookbooks, as well as tasting several eggplant dishes around town, I have finally learned a few tricks to handle eggplant properly.
Therefore, in this and the next posting I’d like to feature two completely different ways to prepare eggplant to showcase its different characters.
This recipe serves 6
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, roughly cut
- 1 medium Japanese eggplant, roughly cut
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 medium zucchini, roughly cut
- 1 orange bell pepper, seeds removed, roughly cut
- 1 Tablespoon (15 ml) sage-thyme-cilantro pesto, (or combine 2 teaspoon/ 10 ml each of dried sage and dried thyme)
- 7 (200 gm) ounce baby corn, half can
- ½ cup (120 ml) pinot grigio
- 1 can 14.5oz (411 gm) diced tomatoes
- 2 tablespoon (15 ml) red wine vinegar
- Salt to taste
- 6 oz (180 gm) black pitted olives
- ¼ cup (60 ml) capers
- Fresh parsley to garnish
In a soup pot, heat olive oil. Add the rough-cut onion, and saute 1 to 2 minutes. Then add eggplant, garlic, zucchini, bell pepper, baby corn and saute about 1 minute. Then add sage-thyme-cilantro pesto, pinot grigio and diced tomatoes. Cover and let stew for 30 minutes. Check liquid level at about 15 minute mark. If too much liquid is forming, uncover the pot to cook off some of the liquid. At the end of cooking, turn off heat, add vinegar, and salt to taste. Toss in black olives. At the time of serving, add capers and parsley to garnish.
Ratatouille is a very versatile dish. Once made, it can be refrigerated for about 4 days. The flavor intensifies with time. You can enjoy it with a baguette or some crackers. You can also toss it with some cooked pasta to make a vegetarian pasta dish. Try it with my Super Fast Spinach Pine Nut Fusilli Pasta.
Never had I known that eggplants can be this easy, and it’s good for you. Now that I got your attention on this figure-friendly vegetable, print some coupon now and go shopping!
Things you may want to know about this recipe
- This is one of the two ways of making ratatouille. The other method requires cooking the vegetables separately and layering them out in a casserole dish to bake. I prefer this method as I am usually in a hurry.
- I prefer to undercook my ratatouille a little bit since I like to see more of the color and taste the texture of the vegetables at the end. If you like the traditional taste, cook for another 10 to 15 minutes longer.
- Adding baby corn is my unique style as I prefer to have some crunch among the soft vegetables.
- Eggplant is low in calories but high in nutrients. Each cup of cooked eggplant contains only 33 calories but rich in vitamins A, C, E, B6, micronutrients and fiber.
- Avoid frying or deep-frying eggplant because it can act like a sponge soaking up the oil it is cooked in.
Nutrient data for 11783, Eggplant, cooked, boiled, drained, with salt (3/30/2012). Retrieved September 14, 2012 from USDA, National Agricultural Library Web site: http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/3465
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