Apparent nutritional benefits:
Low in calories, saturated fats and cholesterol. High in B-vitamins B1, B3, B5, B6, required by the body for fat, protein and carbohydrate metabolism. Also a good source of Vitamin K, Thiamin, Folate, Potassium and Manganese, and a very good source of dietary fibre. The skins are high in anti-oxidants. They are also rich in minerals such as iron, copper, manganese and potassium which acts as anti-oxidants and also the suppression of high sodium intake effects of hypertension. They have a low glycemic index.
Brinjals are a great addition to mince when cubed and fried with the meat, making the meat seem more. They are an indispensable ingredient in a variety of Greek, Moroccan and Italian dishes, and can simply be sliced, and fried or grilled and served with a good vinaigrette, hot or cold, and they pair beautifully with peeled red peppers and feta cheese as part of a meze platter.
To grill slice them about 1cm thick in long large slices. Finely chop fresh herbs such as rosemary and thyme, with garlic, and mix into a little olive oil to spread over both sides of the sliced fruit. Grill over the coals, when done they should be soft on the inside with nice griddle lines on the outside.
The first two dishes that come to mind at the mention of the eggplant are Baba Ghanoush and Greek Moussaka.
Tip: If you lack some of the ingredients but the recipe helps you to use what you have to make a tasty meal, consider its purpose served.
Ingredients: 2 eggfruits, garlic, parsley, lemon, tahini, sea salt, ground pepper, olive oil.
Directions: preheat grill to medium high. Wash and dry eggplant and prick with a fork. Grill, turning often, until skins wrinkle and blacken. Place in a bowl with cover to rest fror 10 minutes. Then slice open en scoop out two cupsful of flesh and bring to a mixing bowl.
Also remove skins from six garlic cloves, and grill until brown all sides. Place into food processor with 1/2 cup parsley leaves removed from stems. Also zest and express the juice of 1 lemon and add both zest and juice to the food processor. Add 1/4 cup tahini and 1/2 t salt, 1/4 t ground pepper and blend until smooth.
Add eggplant and 1/4 cup olive oil and blend again. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Serve with 1 T olive oil drizzled on top, a sprinkle of minced parsley and a pinch of sea salt.
Oriental Eggplant and Cucumber Ribbon Salad (for when those lovely heirlooms are available)
Ingredients: cucumber, eggplant, cilantro, green onions, sesame seed, cilantro and sherry dipping sauce
Directions: Slice off top and bottom of a cucumber and eggplant, and slice both into long ribbons. Use a spiral slicer if available. Place into a glass bowl with 1/2 cup of the dipping sauce, gently mix and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
To make your own cilantro sherry dipping sauce, zest lime and also juice the lime. Mince 2 garlic cloves and add to a glass jar. Mince 2 T cilantro leaves and add to the jar with 1 t fine lime zest. Stir in one T kikkoman or good soy sauce, 1 T lime juice, 1 T sesame oil and 1 T verjuice or medium cream sherry.
Remove a good bunch of cilantro leaves from stems, and chop some onion greens. A small bunch of spring onions will suffice. Generously prinkle the cucumber and eggplant ribbons with the cilantro leaves and onion greens. Drizzle wil more dipping sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Moussaka - this is a true original, you will never want to eat moussaka made with beef mince or bechamel sauce ever again!
Ingredients you will need:
1 large onion chopped, 2 garlic cloves crushed, 1 bay leaf, olive oil, 450g minced lamb, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and salt and pepper, 2 large aubergines, 2 eggs, 2 tablespoons flour, salt, pepper, grated nutmeg and 600ml natural (Greek) yogurt. 450g tomatoes peeled and chopped optional, and 250ml beef or lamb stock.
Fry the onion, garlic and bay leaf in olive oil until tender but not browned. Add the meat, stir and cook until browned. Add oregano, salt, pepper and cinnamon. Add tomatoes (optional) and stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer gently, covered, for 30 minutes.
Slice aubergines and fry in olive oil until lightly browned both sides. Do this in batches, setting aside for assembly later.
Layer the aubergine slices and minced meat mixture in a large ovenproof dish, ending with a layer of aubergines. Beat eggs with flour, salt and pepper and a little grated nutmeg and stir into the yogurt. Pour this mixture over the top of the moussaka and bake in a preheated oven at 180deg C, 350F or gasmark 4, for 1 hour. Topping needs to be set and golden brown. Rest for 15 minutes before serving.