What is large, purple, and has a round bottom? No, it's not Grimace, (the Ronald McDonald character) or Barney the dinosaur. It's an eggplant or melazana in Italian.
There are many different varieties of eggplant. Some are small ivory-white and plump; they may be pink or purple and flecked with white irregular stripes. In Asia, they are tubular and usually straight or slightly curved. In Thailand, the eggplants are not much bigger than peas. Colors range from black, to purple to orange, green and white. They have a tender, slightly sweet flesh.
The majority of eggplants found in most grocery stores are dark purple or almost black and can be long and slim or fat. All have a similar bland yet smoky flavor and the flesh is spongy to the touch when raw, but soft after cooking. When purchasing, eggplants should feel heavy and quite firm to the touch, and have a glossy, unblemished skin. They will keep well in the salad drawer of the refrigerator for up to two weeks. (Source: The World Encyclopedia of Cooking Ingredients).
When cooking eggplant it is best to “salt” them first. Cut eggplant into ½ inch slices and sprinkle a generous amount of salt and allow to stand for one hour. This will out draw the excess moisture. Rinse well patting with paper towel to dry. Eggplants will absorb large amounts of oil when cooking and removing the excess moisture helps to reduce this.
I fell in love with eggplant when our family was stationed in Italy. Some of my favorite eggplant dishes are Pasta al a Norma (spaghetti with red sauce, fried eggplant and grated salty ricotta cheese), Eggplant Caponata, (Italian antipasta), and Eggplant Parmigiana. All of these recipes include frying eggplant. So I do not make these dishes very often.
So, when I came across this recipe for baked eggplant I thought I would give it a try. Oh my goodness, was it good! No lie; it was even better than fried. If you like eggplant you have to try this guiltless recipe!
Prep Time: 11 minutes
Cook time: 24 minutes
Yield:: 4 servings
Rating:: 3.52 stars - based on 27review(s)
Nutrition facts: Calories: 121 kcal; Fat: 2.8 grams;
fat free mayo (can substitute olive oil if desired) - 1/2 cup
minced fresh onion - 1 tbsp
sliced unpeeled eggplant (cut into 1/2 inch slices) - 1 large
dry breadcrumbs - 1 cup
grated Parmesan cheese - 1 cup
dried Italian seasoning - 1 1/2 tsp
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Combine mayonnaise and onion; spread evenly over both sides of eggplant slices.
Combine breadcrumbs, cheese, and Italian seasoning in a shallow bowl; dredge eggplant in breadcrumb mixture.
Place sliced eggplant on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.
Bake at 425 degrees for 12 minutes.
Turn eggplant over; bake 12 minutes or until golden.