Eggplant

Crack the secret of making a classic eggplant dish with less fat

 

Main dish

EGGPLANT PARMIGIANA MEDALLIONS

You can make this dish using as many slices of eggplant as you like. The recipe is adapted from “Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home” by Mario Batali (HarperCollins, $37.50).

2 eggplants (about 1 pound each), washed

Kosher salt

1/4 cup olive oil

Freshly ground pepper

2 1/2 to 3 cups favorite tomato-based pasta sauce with basil

Fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade, optional

6 to 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced into 12 slices

6 tablespoons grated Parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1/4 cup toasted bread crumbs

To prepare the eggplant: Slice off the stem end and bottom end of the eggplant. Using a serrated knife, slice each eggplant into 6 even slices — about 1 1/2 inches thick. Place the slices on a baking sheet and sprinkle each slice with salt. Let it set 30 minutes. Rinse the slices thoroughly and pat them dry. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Pour the olive oil on a sided baking sheet and place it in the oven while it heats.

Once the oven is heated, carefully remove the baking sheet and place the eggplant slices on it.

Return to the oven and bake about 12-15 minutes. Turn the slices over when they are nicely brown, after about 6-8 minutes. Bake the slices until they are just tender, but firm enough to hold their shape. Transfer to a platter. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Arrange 6 of the largest eggplant slices in the bottom of a baking dish. Spread 1/4 cup of the sauce over each slice, and, if using, sprinkle with a few shreds of basil. Top with 1 slice of the mozzarella and sprinkle with about 2 teaspoons Parmesan. Top with 6 more slices of eggplant and repeat the layering.

Sprinkle toasted bread crumbs over the top.

Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until the cheese melts and tops are lightly browned. Serve the eggplant medallions hot, warm or at room temperature. Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 284 calories (55 percent from fat), 18 grams fat (5 grams sat. fat), 20 grams carbohydrates, 12 grams protein, 750 mg sodium, 14 mg cholesterol, 8 grams fiber.


Detroit Free Press

A few weeks ago, a coworker stopped by my desk and asked, “Could you use any eggplants in the Test Kitchen?”

She had plenty in her garden and didn’t want them to go to waste.

Of course, I’d take them. Rarely do I pass up extra ingredients. And, I had no problem finding something to make with the globe beauties.

When cooked just right, eggplant has a creamy, melt-in-your-mouth hearty flavor.

I’ve roasted eggplant to make baba ghanoush, a Middle Eastern spread; grilled slices to place on top of pizzas or serve as a layer for a veggie sandwich, and cut slits in the flesh to stuff it with a mix of chopped sun-dried tomatoes, fresh parsley and seasonings.

Eggplant is a fruit, although it’s thought of and treated like a vegetable. It’s a member of the nightshade family — like tomatoes and potatoes. I think eggplant goes unnoticed a lot because people don’t know how to cook it.

With my new stash of eggplant, I opted to try a different take on the traditional eggplant Parmesan.

The basic eggplant Parmesan recipe calls for frying the eggplant slices. That, of course, adds fat and calories. But the real issue is that eggplant is like a sponge and absorbs oil quickly. Often you can end up with an oily mess.

So many recipes suggest salting the eggplant — and weighting it — before frying it. Doing so removes bitterness and rids it of excess moisture so it doesn’t absorb much oil when you fry it.

In How to Peel a Peach, author Perla Meyers addresses the issue. She writes that “the eggplant releases the oil within 15 minutes of cooking, so let the cooked slices drain on a double layer of paper towels for 15 minutes.”

With this recipe, the eggplant slices are not pan-fried, but rather fried in the oven. It’s a neat technique when roasting any kind of vegetables: Drizzle oil on the baking sheet and place in the oven while the oven preheats. The oil gets hot and the vegetables sizzle immediately when you place them on the baking sheet.

There are many varieties, shapes and sizes of eggplant. The large globe or pear-shaped eggplants with green cap-like stems are most common. Baby or Italian eggplants are smaller versions of the globe.

Choose eggplants with a smooth shiny skin that show no signs of deterioration. Store them in a cool dry place or in the refrigerator for longer storage. Try to use eggplant within a few days because as it ages it tends to get bitter.

It’s not necessary to peel eggplant because the skin holds it together during cooking.

To slice eggplant, a serrated knife works best.

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©2012 Detroit Free Press

Visit the Detroit Free Press at www.freep.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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PHOTO (from MCT Photo Service, 202-383-6099): EGGPLANT

KeyWords:: BC-EGGPLANT:DE BC EGGPLANT DE AMX-2012-11-05T08:05:00-05:00

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