Eggplant is an aesthetically pleasing, delicious fleshy fruit that does best in warm weather. Eaten raw the fruit is bitter, but once cooked, it has a tender flavor. It thrives in areas with long, hot summers and mild falls, and can’t tolerate frost. The fruit won’t set if temperatures drop below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. For a long portion of its history, the eggplant was commonly referred to as “Mad Apples” in Europe. This stemmed from the belief that consumption of eggplant caused insanity. Because of this superstition, eggplant didn’t find its way to North America until 1806 when Thomas Jefferson introduced it. At this point it was still grown strictly as an ornamental plant and this continued for decades afterwards. Gardeners who take the time to grow eggplant will be rewarded with a delicious, fleshy fruit that adds color to the garden and variety to the palate.
Eggplant is a very versatile vegetable and can be prepared in many ways. It can be fried in a stir fry, boiled, or fried in batter. As the following recipe demonstrates, eggplant is also delicious when it’s grilled. The texture and consistency are similar to tofu and can add density and substance to any meal.
Recipe: Grilled Eggplant Sandwich
4 teaspoons olive oil
1 clove finely chopped garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil
salt to taste
fresh ground black pepper
2 small eggplants
1/2 cup cream cheese,
lowfat whipped or goat cheese,
4 pieces focaccia or other high-quality bread sliced in half lengthwise,
2/3 cup spinach washed and dried,
4 slices tomato
Eggplant: Preheat grill to medium heat. Add olive oil, garlic, salt, and fresh ground pepper and 1/2 teaspoon fresh chopped basil to small bowl. Stir to combine. Brush both sides of eggplant slices with olive oil mixture. Grill eggplant over direct heat, 3 minutes per side.
Sandwiches: Mix cream cheese, 1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil, salt, and fresh ground pepper in a small bowl. Spread 4 halves of focaccia bread with cheese mixture. Top with spinach, slice of tomato and focaccia bread slice. Source: www.eggplantrecipes.net
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