mercoledì 12 marzo 2008

Cooking with Eggplant

The regional specialty dishes of Southern Italy are rich with the fantastic taste of eggplant. As we’ve discussed, one of the core principles of authentic Italian cooking is using the freshest ingredients available. Because certain foods are more frequently available and fresh in different regions, the local specialties will often be heavy in certain fruits or vegetables. There is a great variety of ways that eggplant can be cooked and dishes into which it can be incorporated. It’s really a very versatile vegetable, which most people don’t realize, and almost everyone will enjoy eggplant in some preparation.

The most obvious culinary creation using eggplant is the eggplant parmesan commonly found on the menus of Italian restaurants in the United States. This is a favorite alternative for vegetarians who aren’t interested in the typical veal or chicken parmesan. Eggplant can also be stuffed or grilled, fried, incorporated into soups or salads, or even used in a casserole. It is always served cooked in some manner, never raw. When stuffed, it is usually stuffed with a ricotta cheese mixture and breaded. It’s great accompanied with tomatoes and onions. It is also delicious simply sliced, covered with flour and fried in oil or grilled. (On a side note, zucchini is also fabulous prepared this same way!)

When selecting eggplant, try to choose those that have a shinier surface without blemished skin. Eggplants larger than 6 inches in diameter could taste bitter, so steer clear of those, as well as those that have wrinkled skin. Some seasonings that work well with eggplant are garlic, sage, thyme, basil, oregano, and marjoram. Eggplant is a healthy food as well – low in calories, containing about 30 calories per cup, rich with antioxidants and low in both fat and sodium. It also contains a lot of dietary fiber, which is something most people don’t get enough of in their daily diets.

Share with us some of the great ideas you have for cooking with eggplant!

Nessun commento: