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Twink's Treats: Eggplant – the other white meat

Twink's Treats: Eggplant – the other white meat

Today, we’re talking about eggplant – yes, eggplant!  A little fun fact for you - eggplant is a fruit, a berry - related to the potato and tomato (and as we will explore in a few weeks, the potato is absolutely one of my favorites). Although the most common type of eggplant is large and dark purple, there are other varieties, sizes and shapes (oblong to round), and colors (white to green to purple). Way back, the varieties of eggplant known to settlers and early Americans were colorful and egg-shaped, resulting in the name “eggplant”. The flesh is spongy and bland, but, cooked the right way – it’s scrumptious, low fat, high in potassium and a good source of fiber.  

My favorite way to cook it is my version of Eggplant Parmesan.  I love this dish, and I love it cooked this way because it’s baked, not fried.  You get that great Italian “fix” with the tomatoes and cheese, but it’s a meatless dish with fewer calories and fat.  Even those who turn up their nose at eggplant love this version.  

Here’s my recipe for Eggplant Parmesan ala Twink: Tomato or marinara sauce (I make my own, but you can skip this step and use a good jarred marinara, such as Bertolli)

Manna Tomato Sauce:
1 large (24 ounce) can whole plum tomatoes (such as Tuttarosa, Hunts or Furmano’s)
1 onion, quartered
1 t. sugar
½ stick butter (not margarine)
Salt and pepper, oregano
Crush tomatoes by hand when putting them in a large saucepan.  Add onion, sugar, butter, salt, pepper and oregano.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for 45 minutes to an hour.

Eggplant:
2 medium purple eggplant, peeled and sliced into ¼ inch slices
2 eggs, beaten into 1 cup milk
2-3 cups Italian seasoned breadcrumbs mixed with ½ cup parmesan cheese (only use fresh grated parmesan)
Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper
Olive Oil
2 cups Mozzarella cheese
Additional parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Dip eggplant slices in egg mixture, then roll in breadcrumbs mixed with ½ cup parmesan cheese and place onto baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Drizzle slices with olive oil. Bake approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown, turn over and bake an additional 10 minutes. Remove from oven and reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Spray baking dish or pan with cooking spray.  Place eggplant slices in baking dish sprayed with cooking spray. When you have one layer, top with salt/pepper and sprinkle with Italian seasoning.  Spoon tomato or marinara sauce on top of eggplant slices, repeat with remaining eggplant, top with more sauce, and mozzarella and parmesan cheese, then more Italian seasoning.  Spoon sauce around dish.  Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes or until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly. 

Serve with red wine, salad, good Italian bread – and enjoy!!

Until next time, be kinder than necessary, and make someone’s day with your smile! 
-Twink

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