Actually, the eggplant, which is a fruit that is eaten like a vegetable, was originally from Southeast Asia and was introduced to Europe in Spain by the Arabs. At that time, the fruit had a white or yellowish color and was about the size of a goose egg. Hence the name, eggplant.

Although this is not the most popular piece of produce, the eggplant is wonderful to cook with and has a very suttle taste. The eggplant can be baked, stuffed, scalloped, fried, sauteed or marinated. It is an excellent source of dietary fiber, vitamins B1, B6 and potassium.

My cooking friend, Sue, and I have been talking about eggplant for a few weeks but here in our little rural area, had been having a hard time finding it. I finally found some at a local farmer’s market and Sue whipped us up some wonderful Eggplant Parmesan along with some terrific sour dough rolls. It had been a long time since I had eaten eggplant but it was just as wonderful as I remember.

So, if you are looking for something different to cook, scout out your local farmer’s market for this beautiful deep purple, glossy piece of fruit. They are at their best between August through October, so what better time to “plant an egg”?

EGGPLANT PARMESAN
Ingredients:
•1 large eggplant
•2 eggs, beaten
•1 1/4 cups fine dry seasoned bread crumbs
•vegetable oil, about 1/2 cup
•1 package (8 ounces) sliced mozzarella cheese
•tomato sauce with herbs, below
•2 to 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Peel eggplant; cut into 1/4-inch thick slices. Dip eggplant slices into beaten egg; coat with bread crumbs. Heat oil in a large skillet. Fry eggplant in hot oil for about 3 minutes on each side, or until browned. Transfer eggplant to paper towels to drain well. Place half of the fried eggplant in a lightly greased shallow baking pan. Top with half of the mozzarella cheese slices and half of the tomato sauce. repeat layers; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes, or until sauce is bubbly and cheese is melted. Eggplant Parmesan serves 8 to 10.

TOMATO SAUCE WITH HERBS
Ingredients
•1 tablespoon minced onion
•1 tablespoon vegetable oil
•3 cans (8 ounces each) tomato sauce
•1 1/4 teaspoons leaf oregano, crumbled
•1/4 teaspoon dried basil
•pinch salt

Sauté onion in oil over medium low heat until tender. Add remaining ingredients; simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Makes 3 cups of tomato sauce with Italian herbs for Eggplant Parmesan (above).
 
BAKED EGGPLANT
Ingredients:
•1 eggplant, sliced into -inch slices
•1 egg, beaten
•1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
•2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thinly
•1/2 cup olive oil
•1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Dip eggplant slices, one at a time, in the beaten egg. Coat with seasoned breadcrumbs and lay flat on a platter. Refrigerate the coated slices for 1 hour. Meanwhile, peel and slice garlic. In a large frying pan, add the oil and heat just until smoking. Add the garlic and fry the eggplant slices until brown on each side, about 5 minutes a side. Place the fried slices into an oiled, rectangular casserole. Arrange neatly and sprinkle with grated cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
 
GREEK EGGPLANT PIZZA
Ingredients:
•1/2 medium eggplant
•1 teaspoon salt
•1 pizza crust — 12-inch
•2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
•3 plum tomatoes — sliced
•1/4 pound kalamata olives — pitted and halved,
•2 cloves garlic, minced
•1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley or
•1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
•2 cups shredded cheese — your choice
•Fresh oregano sprigs — for garnish

Peel eggplant, and cut into 1-inch cubes. Sprinkle with salt, and press gently between paper towels; set aside. Brush pizza crust with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Arrange tomato slices over crust. Sprinkle with eggplant, olive halves, and next 4 ingredients. Drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Bake at 400F for 20 minutes. Garnish, if desired.
 
NEXT WEEK—Keeping The Faith

Remember……Life is short. Eat Dessert first!!

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