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    All About Eggplant


    Connie Sarros
    • Journal of Gluten Sensitivity Spring 2006 Issue

    All About Eggplant
    Image Caption: Image: CC--Jeff Peterson

    Celiac.com 09/15/2018 - People have a love/hate relationship with the purple fruit called ‘eggplant’. Eggplants, first cultivated in southern India and Sri Lanka, are also known as aubergine, Guinea squash, melazana, and ‘poor-man’s caviar’. Like potatoes they are members of the nightshade family, and despite the fact that we all consider eggplant to be a vegetable, biologically it is defined as a berry, and therefore it is a fruit.

    When selecting the fruit, select ones that are firm to the touch, have a smooth and shiny skin and are heavy. Avoid those with brown or soft spots and have a dull color. Gently push with your thumb or forefinger. If the flesh gives slightly but then bounces back, it is ripe. If the indentation remains, it is overripe and the insides will be mushy. If there is no give at all, the eggplant was picked too early. Once you bring it home, avoid placing it near tomatoes and apples, as they give off a gas that quickens the ripening process. Try to use the eggplant within two days of purchase.

    There are several cooking hints that will make your ‘eggplant experience’ more tasteful. Do not cook this fruit in an aluminum pan as it may cause discoloration (both of the pan and the fruit!). The skin is edible on small, younger plants, but should be removed on coarser, older ones. Once you cut the eggplant and cook it right away because the flesh will brown (similar to cut bananas). This fruit absorbs oil very easily, so it is recommended that you coat the slices with cornmeal before frying or baking. To help reduce the bitter flavor in older plants, ‘de-gorge’ the eggplant—Slice the eggplant into ½-inch pieces, salt well, then weigh down each slice in a colander to allow the liquid to drain out of the eggplant for 30 minutes—then rinse with cold water and pat dry.

    Equivalents and Nutritional Value—one pound of eggplant equals 3½ cups of diced eggplant and 1¾ cups cooked eggplant. One medium eggplant weights about 1 pound. It contains vitamin C and potassium, has anti-bacterial and diuretic effects, as well as flavanoids (cancer fighting antioxidants). One cup cooked eggplant contains 25 calories.

    The different ways to prepare eggplant are limited only by your imagination. Cut it into matchsticks to add to a stir-fry. Cube it for vegetable stews (Ratatouille). Shred it to make fritters, or puree it for a hummus-style dip. You can also slice it lengthwise and grill it.

    This fruit is probably most famous for the Italian rendition of Eggplant Parmigiana. But the Greeks have taken this dish one step further, ‘Moussaka’. If you have never eaten this, it is a delight to savor. Lean ground beef may be substituted for the ground lamb. Three zucchini may be used in place of the eggplant (if you prefer). Even if you hate eggplant, you will love Moussaka.

    The beauty of Moussaka is that this casserole may be made in advance, then covered and refrigerated overnight, or covered with foil and frozen—before you bake it (thaw in the refrigerator completely before baking). Time is precious for us all, and this concoction does take some time to assemble, but every moment is worth it. This makes an impressive side dish for company, it is perfect for a buffet table, or it can be used as a main dish for a family dinner.

    The following recipe is from my “Wheat-free Gluten-free Reduced Calorie Cookbook”. Traditional Moussaka is ‘loaded’ with calories and fat and cholesterol. This version is lower in calories and fat without sacrificing any of the delicious taste.

    Moussaka (Greek Casserole Dinner)

    Ingredients:

    • 1 large eggplant, peeled
    • 2 teaspoons olive oil
    • 1 large onion, chopped
    • ½ pound lean ground lamb
    • 5 teaspoons tomato paste
    • ¼ cup white wine
    • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
    • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 18 teaspoon salt
    • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
    • 1 tablespoon margarine
    • 1 ½ tablespoon cornstarch
    • 1 cup scalded 1% milk
    • 1 egg beaten until frothy
    • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
    • ½ cup gluten-free lowfat cottage cheese
    • 1/3 cup gluten-free corn muffin crumbs, dried
    • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

    Directions:

    Preheat broiler. Cut the peeled eggplant lengthwise into ½-inch thick slices. Spray both sides of the slices with gluten-free nonstick spray; set on a broiler pan and broil until browned, turning once. Preheat oven to 350F. Heat olive oil in a skillet; add onion and sauté until lightly browned. Add the lamb and cook, breaking meat up with a fork, for 10 minutes or until the meat is browned. In a small bowl, stir together the tomato paste, wine, parsley, cinnamon, salt and pepper; add to the meat and simmer, stirring frequently, until all liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat. Melt the margarine in a medium-size saucepan; blend in the cornstarch with a whisk. Slowly stir the hot milk into the cornstarch; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened. Cool slightly, and then stir in the beaten egg, nutmeg, and cottage cheese. Spray a 9-inch square pan with gluten-free nonstick spray. Sprinkle the bottom lightly with 2 tablespoons of the corn muffin crumbs. Arrange alternate layers of eggplant slices and meat mixture in the pan. Sprinkle each meat layer with the Parmesan cheese and remaining corn muffin crumbs. Pour the cottage cheese mixture over the top. Bake 45 minutes or until the top is golden. Cool slightly before cutting. Makes 6 (4 ½ X3-inch) serving.

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  • About Me

    Connie Sarros travels the country speaking to celiac support groups.  She has a DVD “All You Wanted to Know About Gluten-free Cooking” and has written the following books:

    • Newly Diagnosed Survival Kit
    • Wheat-free Gluten-free Dessert Cookbook
    • Wheat-free Gluten-free Recipes for Special Diets
    • Wheat-free Gluten-free Reduced Calorie Cookbook
    • Wheat-free Gluten-free Cookbook for Kids and Busy Adults
    • Gluten-free Cooking for Dummies

    Visit her website at:
    www.gfbooks.homestead.com

  • Related Articles

    Scott Adams
    This recipe comes to us from Robin Moore (Can also be chicken parmesan, shrimp parmesan, veal, etc...).
     
    Note: I do NOT deep fry the eggplant or bread it. The layering gives the same effect without being greasy. The proportions in this are variable and lots of things can make good additions, like sprinkling shrimp in. Amounts will vary on the size of the pan you use, and none are set in stone, especially the type of veggies you use. Additionally, you could slice chicken breasts up and layer them instead of eggplant, and this goes for veal or pork as well. Many people think the eggplant is chicken until I tell them otherwise. Its good hot, excellent cold, addictive, and even if you hate eggplant you will probably love this.
    2 cups bread crumbs. Make breadcrumbs, either grate the fresh bread, whirl it in a blender, or toast it in the oven a while and then put it in a blender if you need bread crumbs that dont stick together. In this recipe, either way works, just break up the clumps and spread them out. I prefer Food for Lifes Brown Rice, fruit-sweetened bread for this.
    Ingredients:
    One peeled eggplant: I recommend slicing it lengthwise and then slicing the long slices into strips as they are more maneuverable in a pan than round slices 1 cup Sliced Mushrooms, I like the brown Crimini type Red bell peppers - slice into rings Parmesan Cheese Line a deep-dish pan with tinfoil and spray Pam into it. Put down a thin layer of crumbs and parmesan, I dont really measure, just enough to cover the bottom with crumbs and then shake some Parmesan out. Then I put a layer of eggplant, topped with mushroom and red pepper slices, and then another layer of crumbs and Parmesan, and so forth until the pan is filled. End with a layer of crumbs and Parmesan. Then pour sauce over it.
    Sauce:
    Either a can of tomato paste and 4 cans of water to thin it, or a couple of cans of diced tomatoes in juice. Either will work, and the amount varies depending on how big a pan you are using. Normally this will cover a 9x12 inch pan that is 3 inches deep.
    Garlic, about a teaspoon of powdered, or five or six cloves crushed in a garlic press Mixed Italian seasonings - half a teaspoon Dried Porcini Mushrooms broken up into very small pieces. - This is optional, though they add a lot of flavor ½ cup chardonnay 1 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar OR apple cider vinegar with a teaspoon of sugar Sea Salt: ¼ teaspoon OR regular salt Onion: One cup, finely diced Ground fennel seed: about 1/3 teaspoon Fresh rosemary - ½ teaspoon finely chopped Dried basil: one teaspoon Simmer the sauce for a bit to blend things together, and then pour over the eggplant layered in the pan. You might need to use a chopstick or something to poke it a bit and make sure the sauce penetrates down to the bottom (or lift some of the slices with your finger to do this).
    Shake Parmesan generously all over the top, then spray Pam on foil to cover pan. Crimp it well and make it tent up over and not touch the food if you can. Seal it well and bake for 50 min in a 350F oven. Its a good idea to put it on a rack close to the top of the oven and have a buffer pan on the bottom rack to dissipate the direct heat. Then take off the lid and add a bit more Parmesan and bake for ten more minutes.

    Jefferson Adams
    Insalata Caprese is a traditional Italian antipasta with endless room for variation. The usual emphasis on pasta and grains can make finding naturally gluten-free Italian dishes a challenge, but I’ve found the best way to start is to go straight to the garden. Utilizing vegetables and putting them at the forefront of the meal can only heighten any protein you wish to serve. This stacked version is made heartier, but not heavier, by the eggplant which makes it just as great a side as an appetizer. A fruity, medium-bodied white wine pairs delightfully with this dish and brings you’re your palate straight to the days summer.
    Ingredients:
    2 large eggplants
    1 red bell pepper
    2 medium tomatoes
    ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes cut in strips
    10-12 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    4 fresh basil leaves
    1 tablespoon dried oregano
    1 teaspoon salt, divided
    ½ teaspoon pepper
    Balsamic vinegar for drizzling

    Directions:
    Slice eggplant into ½-inch thick medallions. Place the eight largest slices on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Allow to sit for 30 minutes, rinse and pat dry. Refrigerate the remaining eggplant.
    While eggplants are resting, slice pepper in half lengthwise and remove seeds and ribs. Cut in half-inch strips and roast until skins are black and blistered, about 20 minutes. Place roasted peppers in a paper bag to cool. After peppers have cooled, remove charred skins.
    Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add eggplant slices a few at a time, do not crowd slices. Cook 3-4 minutes on each side or until they begin to brown. Drain on a paper towel and sprinkle with pepper, oregano, and ½ teaspoon salt while eggplant is still hot.
    Slice tomatoes and mozzarella in sizes similar to the eggplant. Sprinkle tomatoes with remaining salt.
    To assemble, arrange a tomato for the base and follow with a slice of eggplant, mozzarella, pepper strips, and a few slices of sundried tomatoes. Repeat and drizzle completed caprese with balsamic vinegar. Garnish with a basil leaf.


    Jefferson Adams
    Celiac.com 03/26/2015 - A good eggplant Parmesan is a delight to the eye, to the nose, and to the palate.  It is also powerful weapon in any dinner arsenal. This easy recipe delivers a tasty, delicious version that will replace pangs of hunger with smiles of joy.
    Ingredients: 
    8-10 slices of eggplant, about ½-inch thick ¾ cup of potato flour, rice flour, cornstarch, or general purpose gluten-free flour ¾ cup crushed Rice Chex or gluten-free breadcrumbs ½ cup grated Romano cheese 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon black pepper ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 teaspoon garlic powder 1 teaspoon onion powder 1 teaspoon paprika 1 teaspoon dried oregano 1 teaspoon dried thyme 1 large egg, lightly beaten 2 cups your favorite easy tomato sauce--canned. jarred, whatever might be in the freezer, etc. ⅓ cup olive oil 4-6 ounces mozzarella cheese, preferably fresh, cut 8-10 1/4-inch-thick slices Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste Fresh basil leaves, for garnish  Directions:
    Combine breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan in a shallow bowl.
    Combine spices in a bowl and mix.
    Heat the broiler.
    On the stovetop, put the tomato sauce into a medium saucepan, and warm on a rear burner.
    On another burner, heat ½-inch of oil in large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Don't let oil get smoky. If oils smokes, pull it off the burner and let it cool until smoking stops.
    Season both sides of the cutlets with the spice mix of salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, oregano, paprika, and cayenne.
    Dredge eggplant in gluten-free flour, then dip cutlets in the beaten egg, then dredge in breadcrumb and cheese mixture, turning to coat both sides. Place cutlets on a plate.
    Place cutlets in skillet a few at a time, and cook a two or three minutes on each side, until golden.
    Pull eggplant from skillet and drain briefly on a paper towel.
    Then use a spatula, transfer browned cutlets to a 10x15 inch baking pan.
    Top off oil in the skillet. Cook the remaining cutlets, drain and place in baking pan.
    Top each cutlet with a slice of mozzarella.
    Now, here's where I do things differently than most traditional preparation methods.
    Instead of lining the pan with the tomato sauce, I broil the eggplant alone--about 4 inches from heat source until cheese is melted and lightly browned in spots, 4 to 5 minutes.
    I serve them immediately with warm tomato sauce on the side, and top with grated parmesan or Romano, as desired. This delivers a crunchier eggplant cutlet, and allows guests to add sauce as desired. Garnish with basil leaves.
    You can also put the warm sauce on the plate and top with the broiled cutlas. Or you can do it the traditional way, by putting the sauce in the pan, then putting the cutlets and cheese in and broiling. 
    However you do it, I'm sure you'll make friend with this gluten-free version of eggplant Parmesan.
    For chicken or veal Parmesan, try this recipe.

    Jefferson Adams
    Gluten-free Eggplant Chickpea Stew
    Celiac.com 09/02/2017 - This light, yet hearty eggplant chickpea stew is a tasty way to a heart-healthy meal. It goes great over rice.
    Ingredients:
    2 large eggplants (about 1½ pounds each) 2 large onions, thinly sliced 1½ cups dried chickpeas, rinsed and soaked overnight and drained 1 28-ounce can tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped 1 ounce dried Porcini mushrooms, re-hydrated 3 teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled 1 bay leaf 3 cups hot water 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided 6 cloves garlic, minced 1 small (1-inch) cinnamon stick 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper ⅓ cup finely chopped fresh parsley Directions:
    Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
    Soak dried mushrooms in a bowl of hot water for 30 minutes.
    Strain liquid through a sieve lined with a paper towel and set aside.
    Chop the mushrooms finely.
    Cut eggplants in half lengthwise. Brush the cut sides liberally with 2 tablespoons oil.
    Place on a rimmed baking sheet, cut-side down, and roast until tender, about 25 minutes.
    Let stand until cool enough to handle.
    Cut into 1-inch cubes and transfer to a 4-quart (or larger) slow cooker.

    Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
    Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 3 to 6 minutes.
    Add garlic, oregano, cinnamon stick, salt, pepper, bay leaf and the chopped mushrooms.
    Cook and stir for 1 minute.
    Add the chickpeas and the liquid reserved from the mushrooms.
    Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.
    Transfer to the slow cooker and stir to combine with the eggplant.
    Cover and cook until the chickpeas are very tender, about 4 hours on High or 7 to 8 hours on Low heat.
    Remove cinnamon stick and bay leaf.
    Stir in tomatoes and parsley.
    Serve over rice as a standalone meal or as a side.

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