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In season: Eggplant — or what’s delicious and bitter, too

First Published Aug 22 2012 11:35 am • Last Updated Aug 22 2012 02:58 pm

As the leaves begin to change so will produce at the local supermarket. The vegetable to look for this time of year is eggplant.

At a glance

Vegetarian moussaka

3 peeled eggplants, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices (about 2 1/2 pounds)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Cooking spray

2 cups chopped onion

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup uncooked bulgur

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1⁄8 teaspoon ground cloves

2 cups organic vegetable broth

2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano

1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained

1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup 1 percent low-fat milk

2 tablespoons finely grated fresh Romano cheese

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat broiler to high.

Brush eggplant slices with 1 tablespoon oil. Place half of eggplant on a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray; broil 5 inches from heat for 5 minutes on each side or until browned. Repeat procedure with remaining eggplant. Set eggplant aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add chopped onion to pan; sauté 8 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add bulgur; cook 3 minutes or until bulgur is lightly toasted, stirring frequently. Add ground allspice, cinnamon, and cloves; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in vegetable broth, oregano, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly with a whisk until well blended. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly with a whisk. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 5 minutes or until thickened, stirring frequently. Stir in cheese and salt. Remove from heat, and cool slightly. Add egg, stirring well with a whisk.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Arrange half of eggplant in an 11 x 7-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Spread the bulgur mixture evenly over eggplant; arrange remaining eggplant over bulgur mixture. Top with milk mixture. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes, and remove from oven. Increase oven temperature to 475°. Return dish to oven for 4 minutes or until the top is browned. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Serving Size » 4

Source » Jeanne Kelley, Cooking Light

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What are they » Eggplant most commonly has a deep purple color and an odd large tear-drop shaped body. The taste can be described as pleasantly bitter and spongy. Eggplants are full of Phytonutrients that help numerous health issues. Research has shown that eggplants could possibly help brain health, bad cholesterol, and help prevent cancer.

How to use » Trim the end and discard the stem. Cut the eggplant into large slices and discard the two ends. Then soak in cold water for 30 minutes, or until the eggplant releases brown juices. Drain the water and proceed with the recipe. Eggplant is best as either a main dinner dish, or accompanying a dinner dish.

Look for » Choose eggplant that is heavy in size, firm, and without any wrinkles. The more firm and shiny the skin, the more fresh the eggplant. Look for solid color all the way to the stem, without any green.

Storage » Eggplant will keep in the fridge for about four days but will begin to shrivel as it ages.

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