Take time to bring out eggplant's potential

July 27, 2011 

My family members were divided on their love of eggplant. My daddy would plant just one row of this vegetable in his garden. The yield would be enough for the two of us to enjoy.

Mama was not a lover of eggplant and neither was my sister. But Mama would prepare it for Daddy and me. When my parents' grandchildren came along, just my son, Billy, and my sister's daughter, Tiffany, developed a taste for eggplant.

As I introduce foods to my grandchildren, the girls, Makayla and Destinye Stormer, are slowly developing a taste for it. At least they are happy to help make ratatouille.

Janie Johnson Smalls knew I loved eggplants and introduced ratatouille to me. She had me shop for the right ingredients and later taught me how to can this stew to have for the winter. How happy was I to have another way to enjoy eggplants?

Eggplant needs special methods of preparation to bring out its flavor. Unlike the great majority of vegetables, it is not good simply cooked in water or by steam. You can go from simple to complex in preparing it. Here are a few recipes to get you started.

Baked Eggplant

1 eggplant

1 egg, well-beaten

1/8 cup bread crumbs

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup butter or margarine

Salt and pepper

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Peel eggplant and cut into cubes. Cook in salted water until tender and drain. Add egg, crumbs, onion and butter. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bake for 40 minutes.

Eggplant Parmesan

1 large eggplant, cut into quarter-inch slices

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 cup bread crumbs

1/2 cup vegetable or olive oil

2 (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons oregano

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1 (10-ounce) package mozzarella cheese slices

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Dip eggplant slices in egg and then in bread crumbs. Fry slices in oil for three minutes on each side; drain well. In a saucepan, combine tomato sauce, salt, oregano and parsley; bring to boil and remove from heat. Place half the eggplant slices in a greased 2-quart casserole. Cover with half of the tomato sauce and half of mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers. Top with Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 45 minutes.

Ratatouille with Cheese

2 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce

1/4 cup water

1 (16-ounce) can stewed tomatoes

1/8 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon oregano

2 garlic cloves, mashed

2 medium zucchini, peeled and cut into quarter-inch slices

1 large eggplant, peeled and cut into quarter-inch slices

3 medium celery stalks, chopped

1 medium green bell pepper, chopped

1 (10-ounce) package grated mozzarella cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine tomato sauce, water, tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, salt, oregano and garlic. In single layer, arrange half the zucchini and eggplant in a greased 9-by13-inch casserole. Arrange half the celery and green peppers on top. Spread half the sauce over vegetables and sprinkle half the cheese on top. Repeat layers.

Cover and bake 1 1/2 hours.

Port Royal resident Ervena Faulkner is a retired educator who has always had an interest in food and nutrition. E-mail her at features@beaufortgazette.com.

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