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Garden Casserole 2014

Eggplant          

It is said that India is the mother country of the eggplant. Asian countries embraced this fruit around 3 A.D. and it was introduced in Europe about 11 A.D., where it was first considered poisonous as such the tomato. They are both in the nightshade family. Although eggplant varieties are of many sizes, shapes, and colors it was the common small, white, egg shaped variety that was most common. It is said that the name eggplant was coined in England. Thomas Jefferson Introduced eggplant to the United states in 1806 from a friend in France.  

One cup of cooked, cubed, and salted eggplant is high in dietary fiber (10%), vitamin K (4%), B6 (4%). High in potassium, folate, and manganese, protein at 2%.   Eggplant can be quite bland but it soaks up flavors of accompanying foods, herbs, and spices, much like tofu.

My favorite way to eat eggplant is grilled. Peel and slice the eggplant in ¼ slices. Cover with oil, salt, pepper, and your favorite dried herbs. Do not marinade. Grill on a medium fire until charred good on both sides. Serve hot. There are many eggplant recipes on line. The following “Garden Casserole” recipe incorporates other vegetables that are in season this time of year. You can adjust the amounts of egg plant, zucchini, tomato depending on which ones you may have more or less of.  

 

Garden Casserole

Ingredients

1.5 pounds (more or less) eggplant, peeled 2 teaspoons salt, divided

1/4 cup olive oil

2 medium onions, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 medium zucchini (more or less), sliced 1/2-inch thick

4 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped

2 celery ribs, sliced *peeled swiss chard stem may be substituted for celery

1/4 cup minced fresh parsley (opt)

1/4 cup minced fresh basil

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup grated Romano cheese

1 cup dry Italian bread crumbs

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

 

Directions

Cut eggplant into 1/2-in. thick slices; sprinkle both sides with 3 teaspoons salt. Place in a deep dish; cover and let stand for 30 minutes. Rinse with cold water; drain and dry on paper towels.

Cut eggplant into 1/2-in. cubes; sauté in oil until lightly browned. Add onions, garlic and zucchini; cook 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, celery, parsley, basil, pepper and remaining salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in Romano cheese.

Pour into greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish. Combine crumbs and butter; sprinkle on top. Bake, uncovered, at 375 degrees F for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Bake 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

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