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  • Theresa Gentile

Mediterranean Eggplant - Cooked in the Microwave

Updated: Aug 21, 2019

This dish is easy to make, produces a lot and can be eaten cold. Perfect for a summer picnic lunch.



I love eggplant and try to incorporate it whenever I can. My favorite way to eat eggplant?? Fried and smothered in mozzarella and sauce. Yeah, we won’t even talk about those calories. This eggplant recipe, on the other hand, is much lighter and is a great way to add vegetables to your diet.


Is Eggplant Healthy?


Let’s talk about eggplant nutrition a bit, shall we? Eggplants contain fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium and other phytonutrients. These nutrients have been associated with heart health and lowering LDL cholesterol. Eggplants’ purple color comes from its anthocyanins. One in particular, nasunin, has been associated with cancer prevention, as it fights free radicals. These free radicals may also be responsible for improving brain health by reducing inflammation. Raw eggplant has about 20 calories per cup, 5g carbohydrates and 3g fiber making them a nutrient dense food. The fiber also helps slow sugar absorption, which makes it a good food for those with diabetes.


Which Vegetables are Nightshade Vegetables?


white potatoes

tomatoes

eggplant

bell peppers

cayenne pepper

paprika


When Eggplant is Not Healthy


Frying converts this nutrient-dense food to gluttony. Eggplants’ spongy flesh and high water content help it soak up lots of oil when the two meet. This is why most recipes will call for salting eggplant first. Salting draws the water out of the eggplant, allowing less room for oil to be absorbed. There are ways to cut down on both oil and salting time as the salting can add significant time to a recipe. Pan searing and microwaving eggplant first can do the trick of releasing some water, so that the eggplant will not soak up as much oil. (I used the microwave method in this recipe, as the slightly soggy texture is great for this caponata-type dish.) You can also brush eggplant with oil right before baking, roasting or grilling. When sautéing, heat oil to a pre-smoke point before adding eggplant to the pan.


Eggplants and Nightshade Vegetables


Eggplants are a nightshade vegetable and part of the family, Solanaceae. Some species are toxic. Leaves of eggplant and potatoes should not be eaten, nor should the green stalks of potatoes. Other species are commonly cultivated and eaten by humans. Nightshade vegetables contain alkaloids, mainly solanine, which may aggravate arthritis or trigger inflammation in some people. The Arthritis Foundation says this is not true. It is more likely that people who experience an increase in arthritis pain with nightshade vegetables have a food sensitivity to the components in these vegetables.


Mediterranean Eggplant Recipe


Serve this with crusty Italian bread, or over sliced tomatoes for a beautiful garden lunch or appetizer! This assembles quickly, but will need time to marinate, about 24 hours.


Ingredients:


2 large eggplants

4 garlic cloves, minced

¼ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons each of: fresh basil, parsley, mint

Shaved parmesan, optional



Preparation:


1. Pell and cut eggplant into ¾ inch dice. Lay between paper towels on a plate and microwave on high for 7-9 minutes, more if needed, to cook eggplant. Work in batches so the eggplant is in one layer.


2. Place eggplant in a large mixing bowl. Add garlic, herbs and olive oil and toss. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours, tossing a few times.


3. Serve over sliced beefsteak tomatoes. Top with shaved parmesan cheese.


Let me know if you try it!


References:

https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2962

https://foodandnutrition.org/from-the-magazine/eggplant-a-savory-fruit-with-a-juicy-past/