If you ask me, I think the humble eggplant is a “wonder veg”.
Why, you ask?
Well, first of all, it’s so pretty! That beautiful hue of deep purple gets me every time. And, it can be small, large, round, thin, elongated, circular…it has so many personalities!
As a member of the nightshade family, the eggplant is a good source of fibre and potassium. Some studies have said that nightshades cause inflammation but, after checking some of the sources, none of them have been supported.
One of the great things about eggplant is that is is spongy so it absorbs flavours of other ingredients it is cooked with (you just have to be a bit careful with things like oil as it can absorb that quickly). The good news is, if you are watching your carbs or on a keto-based diet, this veg is for you! It has the benefit of feeling “meaty” in dishes so you won’t miss animal-based protein when it’s in your dishes!
And, if you cut an eggplant in half lengthwise, score the cut side with a sharp knife and place them, cut side down on a well oiled sheet, it caramelizes to create the base of so many dishes (just bake it at 400°F for about 15-20 minutes depending on the size of your eggplant)
Now, you’re asking, what can you do with this once it’s been browned?
Well, I am so glad you asked:
- If you scoop out the insides and add some tahini and a squeeze of lemon (plus season it with salt and pepper), you have instant baba ganoush. Serve with warm pita and you have a fantastic starter to any meal.
- Looking for a hearty breakfast? Top a roasted eggplant half with a fried egg and some fresh herbs and you will have a happy tummy for the hours leading to lunch.
- Are you watching your bread intake but you also want a hearty, quick meal? Well, top your eggplant with some homemade chili and grated old cheddar and you have a wonderful, keto-friendly meal that will keep you satisfied.
- Use the eggplant “meat” (the soft, silky insides) to spread on the base of your pizza dough before you add your toppings of choice. It will add a creamy base and you will never miss the tomato sauce.
- Do you have any non-meat eaters in your family? Well, eggplant (as well as mushrooms) is a hearty vegetable that adds a “meatiness” to dishes without actually adding any meat! The next time you’re making a tomato sauce, add in some chopped cooked eggplant (the premise behind the oh-so-popular dish called Pasta Alla Norma). You’ll be surprised at how filling this vegetable based dish is!
- In the mood for an Asian inspired dish that’s easy to throw together? Coat the browned side of the eggplant with a bit of miso paste and top with some warmed lentils (you can simply cook some chopped onion in some olive oil and then add a can of drained lentils to it…just make sure you season them well). A hearty dish that will take main stage at your dinner table when you invite guests over to share a meal!
- If you’re looking to increase the fibre of a simple vegetable sandwich, simply spread half of a roasted eggplant (roughly chopped) on a slice of toasted grainy bread, add some leafy lettuce, thickly sliced tomato and top with a crumble of goat cheese or feta, and you have an amazingly filling sandwich that will be the envy of all of your co-workers!
- Do you have some ground beef or lamb leftover from another meal? Well, you can serve it Ottolenghi style by topping your grilled eggplant with it and then sprinkling it with some pomegranate seeds…so simple but so yummy!
- The next time you find yourself with a ton of tomatoes and cucumbers (I’m thinking it will be in the heat of summer), make yourself a salad with a simple, vinaigrette, add some chopped roasted eggplant for creaminess and scoop it into a pita. It will give you all of the Mediterranean vibes you need without going on vacation!!
- And, if simplicity is your thing, simply add a few garnishes and place the eggplant halves on a bed of tzatziki and tahini (below) and you have a fabulous and filling side dish that will win you accolades!
What have you served eggplant with?? I’d love to know!