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New Take on the Ghanoush

Posted Oct 07 2009 10:00pm
E ggplant and I have a love hate relationship, as I’ve mentioned before. If I’ve been presented foul tasting or cooked eggplant, I’ll be turned off for a while. On the other hand, if the eggplant I receive is absolutely delicious, then I’m sold for the long hold. Recently, Kroger has this sale on eggplant, .99 a pound so I’m stocking up.
Roasted eggplant has to reach that umami factor or something because the smooth rich creamy taste of roasted eggplant is utterly divine, especially in babaganoush; but, that’s not the only utilization of eggplant. Why puree the poor, poor eggplant? There are so many other things out there to do with the eggplant as opposed to simply pureeing it with yogurt, smothering it with cheese, or grilling it. Let the eggplant take the show for, after all, it is a super vegetable.

Eggplant falls into the nightshade family, stretching its genius roots to the tomato and potato (well I like those two, too, so I guess that’s why). Classified in botany, the eggplant is considered a berry and even has a botanic relation to tabbaco. For some reason, I can see it and that’s probably why those who are allergic to the items in the nightshade family cannot tolerate nicotine that much. There are too many varities of eggplant to name: there are white, purple, striped, bulb-like, black, oblong, Chinese, Japanese, green, yellow, red and orange. My personal favorite is the long Chinese eggplant because it is sweeter (the long skinny one) as it has less seeds. Raw eggplant is never recommended because it can be too bitter. This explains why some people have adapted the methodology of salting the fruit prior to cooking to draw out the bitterness and simply wipe it away. It isn’t really necessary and, being like a sponge, the eggplant will absorb most of the salt. In retrospect, it can also absorb a ton of sauce making it a primary candidate in gratins and casseroles. The aubergine is known throughout the world, but, it’s popularity reigns in the middle east and India. Stuffing eggplants is a popular method of serving as opposed to the traditional more common ‘ala parmigiana’ style or in ratatouille. In India, they stuff it with coconuts and peanuts, a tempting style for me to try, and in Greece, it can also be stuffed with spinach and rice or used in moussaka, their version of lasagna which is ten times better than the norm.

Now, what makes eggplant a super food? Eggplant is a low calorie vegetable with a substantial amount of dietary fiber, nixing the skin, and high in antioxidents and phenolic acids. Yes, you heard me; berries aren’t the only one. Eggplant studies have proven, for a change, that the fruit can lower high blood pressure and promote blood flow. It isn’t every day that a fruit can do something like that.

Unfortunately, because of the acids, the vegetable acquires a bitter taste. Regardless, the bitterness can be avoided in the preparation method, which is why it is often paired with yogurt or tomato sauce to diminish some bitterness - or, in my recipe, the figs do the work for me.
And I want to make this again and again and again because it was delicious; so delicious, I was upset that it was gone.

Baba Crostini
4-6 slices of roasted eggplant
2 slices of favorite GF bread
2 plump figs

1 tbsp soy or coconut yogurt
½ tbsp tahini paste
1 tsp garlic powder
Smidgeon of salt
A dash of pepper
1 tsp lemon juice

Garnish:
Chopped parsley
Sesame seeds

Marinade the eggplant over night or for 30 minutes in a combination of the yogurt, tahini, garlic powder, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

Toast two slices of bread. Slice two scrumptious fresh figs.

Layer the eggplant over the toast and top it with the sliced figs. Garnish with parsley and/or sesame seeds.

And you’re done. Easy, no? And so, so good.
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