MUS Wellness again has the honor of hosting a dietetic intern for two weeks from the Montana Dietetic Internship program. This year’s intern is Steph Tarnacki. Steph earned her Bachelor’s degree in Dietetics from the University of Northern Colorado, and aspires to work as a dietitian in the public school system to improve the National School Lunch Program, provide nutrition education, and establish more Farm to School Programs. We had a reader request for eggplant recipes following our recent post about zucchini, so on day one with us, I asked Steph to write about her favorite ways to prepare eggplant, and she happily obliged. Please welcome Steph Tarnacki as our guest blog writer:

Late August in Montana – the sun shines bright against a foreshadowing chill in the air, the critters bustle and scavenge for food in preparation of the long winter to come, and the gardens burst with deep purple eggplants!   

Eggplants, a member of the nightshade family, are known for their slightly bitter taste, and spongy texture. Their roots trace back to Asia, where you can find over 13 varieties! Rich in the antioxidant nasunin, eggplants help protect against harmful free radicals and, most importantly, protect the fats in brain cell membranes. Talk about some delicious brain food! Nasunin also reduces inflammation, helps our body remove toxic waste, and may help stave off cancer, heart disease and arthritis.1, 2

Eggplants are low in calories, high in fiber and also pack a punch in the vitamin department – rich in B vitamins, magnesium, potassium and Vitamin K.

So, how can you incorporate more eggplants into your life? Here are a few of my favorite recipes!

BAKED EGGPLANT PARMESAN

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 eggplant sliced 1/4″ thick (you’ll need 12 slices)
  • Salt
  • 3 eggs beaten
  • 1 (8 ounce) box Italian seasoned panko bread crumbs
  • 1 (26 ounce) jar marinara sauce
  • 1 (16 ounce) package fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • Cooking spray

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Sprinkle some salt on both sides of each slice of eggplant. Layer the slices in a  colander and place the colander in your sink. Place a heavy dish or pan over the top to press them down. Allow to sweat for 30 to 45 minutes. Rinse well with cold water to remove salt and blot dry with paper towels
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a rimmed baking sheet generously with cooking spray. Dip eggplant slices in egg, then in bread crumbs, pressing crumbs down with fingers if needed to cover evenly. Place in a single layer on oiled baking sheet and lightly spray tops of breaded eggplant with cooking spray.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes then carefully flip each slice and cook an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until nicely browned. Remove from oven and reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
  4. In a 9×13 inch baking dish spread just enough marinara to cover bottom of dish. Place a layer of eggplant slices in the sauce. Cover each slice with a spoon full of marinara, a slice or two of mozzarella, and then sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Repeat with one more layer. Pour any leftover marinara and around edges of eggplant slices and top with any cheese that is left. Sprinkle basil on top.
  5. Bake, uncovered, in preheated oven for 30 minutes.

Recipe by: Valerie’s Kitchen

BABA GANOUSH

INGREDIENTS

  • Olive oil (for grill and  drizzling)
  • 2 pounds Italian eggplants (4 medium)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • ½ garlic clove, finely grated   
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Sumac, za’atar, crushed red pepper flakes, or Aleppo pepper; grilled flatbreads or pita bread (for serving)

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Prepare a grill for medium-high heat; lightly oil grate. Grill eggplant, turning occasionally, until skin is charred and flesh is fork-tender, 25–35 minutes. (Alternatively, you can tuck vegetables into coals left over from grilling something else. Wait until charcoal is completely covered with ash and no black spots remain. Shake grill to knock excess ash off coal, then rake them around and pile them up around vegetables.) Let cool slightly.
  • Halve eggplant, scoop flesh into a colander set over a bowl, and let drain at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour; discard liquid.
  • Pulse eggplant along with lemon juice, tahini, and garlic in a food processor until smooth; season with salt and pepper.
  • Drizzle baba ghanoush with oil and top as desired. Serve with flatbreads or pita bread.

Recipe by NYT Cooking

baba-ganoush-1271630_1280
Baba Ganoush

RATATOUILLE

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large (1.25 lb) eggplant, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
  • Salt
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 2 medium zucchini (about 1 lb), cut into 1/3-inch cubes
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red, orange or yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 5 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 5 large vine-ripened tomatoes (1.75 lb), cut into 1/3-inch cubes, with their juices
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons fresh chopped thyme, plus more for serving
  • 3/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large nonstick pan over medium heat. Add the eggplant and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, about 10-12 minutes. Transfer to another plate and set aside.
  • Add another tablespoon of oil to the pain. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring frequently, until tender-crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and transfer to a plate; set aside.
  • Add two more tablespoons of oil to the pan and add the onion and bell pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking for about 3 minutes more. Do not brown. Add the tomatoes and their juices, tomato paste, thyme, sugar, crushed red pepper flakes (if using) and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are broken down into a sauce, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the cooked eggplant to the pan; bring to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat to low, and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes or until the eggplant is soft. Add the zucchini and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more, or until just warmed through. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Sprinkle with fresh basil and thyme, drizzle with a little olive oil if desired, and serve warm or chilled. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Recipe by: Jenn Segal

And a few other recipe links that look tasty:

Caponata

Penne with Tomatoes, Eggplant, and Mozzarella

Hoisin Glazed Eggplant

Roasted Eggplant, Zucchini, and Chickpea Wraps

Hopefully these recipes can help you add some eggplant to your life! Please share more of your favorite eggplant recipes!

Steph

Sources:

  1. https://draxe.com/eggplant-nutrition/
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0300483X0000202X

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