SAN DIEGO: A member of the nightshade family, the eggplant is related to both the tomato and potato and is used as a
vegetable. Profusely purple eggplant is common in North America and is healthy and delicious. Its rich, savory flavor makes it a perfect substitute in dishes like eggplant parmesan (instead of chicken), diced for a vegetable lasagna or used as instead of noodles in lasagna, even as a substitute for bacon, when breaded and fried, in sandwiches.
THE ORIGINS OF EGGPLANT
According to Wikipedia, eggplant originated in southern and eastern Asia since prehistory, with reference made in Qimin Yaoshu, an ancient Chinese agricultural treatise dated 544.
Eggplant is also known to have grown in ancient Greece, Rome, Africa, the Mediterranean and Arab countries.
GRILLED EGGPLANT PANINI
Summertime is the perfect time to bring out the backyard grill and enjoy this easy to make Grilled Eggplant Panini, with this recipe published in Eating Well.
2 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
8 1/2- inch slices eggplant (skinned)
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
8 slices whole-grain country bread
8 thin slices fresh mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup sliced jarred roasted red peppers
4 thin slices red onion
1. Preheat grill to medium-high
2. Combine mayonnaise and basil in a small bowl. Using 1 tablespoon oil, lightly brush both sides of eggplant and sprinkle each slice with garlic salt. With the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, brush one side of each slice of bread.
3. Grill the eggplant for 6 minutes, turn with a spatula top with cheese and continue grilling until the cheese is melted and the eggplant is tender, about 4 minutes more. Toast the bread on the grill, 1 to 2 minutes per side.
4. To assemble sandwiches: Spread basil mayonnaise onto four slices of bread. Top with the cheesy eggplant, red peppers, onion and the remaining slices of bread. Cut in half and serve warm–enjoy!
PURPLE REIGN: THE MIGHTY EGGPLANT
The profuse, deep purple hue of the eggplant skin is a nature’s giveaway that it is packed with healthful nutrients.
Relatively low in carbohydrates, sugar and fat and calories, eggplant has an abundance of B Vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K.
Also mineral-packed, eggplant contains calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.
Enjoy the remainder of summer and all the natural bounty this season provides.
Grilled Eggplant Panini could very well become a delicious mealtime staple many summers to come.
Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!