It is almost summer, which means eggplants are in season. This underrated “fruit” is the perfect superfood to accompany your workouts and healthy lifestyle.

Eggplant

Eggplants are in the same family as peppers, tomatoes, and potatoes. Though they are typically thought of as a vegetable, they are in fact a fruit. They have a very meaty texture and come in a variety of colors and sizes. A few centuries ago the eggplant was known as the “Mad Apple” because Northern Europeans thought eggplants produced insanity.1 Luckily, today we know the truth about eggplants and the great nutrition they have to offer.

Eggplants are very low in calories, saturated fat and cholesterol. They are a very good source of Vitamin K, Thiamin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Potassium, and Dietary Fiber.2 There are many ways to prepare eggplant including frying, grilling, baking and boiling just to name a few. Eggplants can be a healthy addition to salads, pasta, stir-fry, pizzas, and anything else you can imagine.

To start off your eggplant season right, here is a popular yet delicious eggplant recipe:

Eggplant Parmesan3


Ingredients

Eggplant:

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon water

2 cups whole-wheat panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)

1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

2 (1-pound) eggplants, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices

Cooking spray

Filling:

1/2 cup torn fresh basil

1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 (16-ounce) container part-skim ricotta cheese

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Remaining ingredients:

1 (24-ounce) jar premium pasta sauce

1/4 teaspoon salt

8 ounces thinly sliced mozzarella cheese

3/4 cup (3 ounces) finely grated fontina cheese



Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. To make eggplant, combine 2 eggs and 1 tablespoon water in a shallow dish. Combine panko and 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano in a second shallow dish. Dip eggplant in egg mixture; dredge in panko mixture, pressing gently to adhere and shaking off excess. Place eggplant 1 inch apart on baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until golden, turning once and rotating baking sheets after 15 minutes.

3. To make filling, combine basil and next 6 ingredients (through egg).

4. To assemble, spoon 1/2 cup pasta sauce in bottom of a 13 x 9-inch glass baking dish coated with cooking spray. Layer half of eggplant slices over pasta sauce. Sprinkle eggplant with 1/8 teaspoon salt. Top with about 3/4 cup pasta sauce; spread half of ricotta mixture over sauce, and top with a third of mozzarella and 1/4 cup fontina. Repeat layers once, ending with about 1 cup pasta sauce. Cover tightly with aluminum foil coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 35 minutes. Remove foil; top with remaining third of mozzarella and 1/4 cup fontina. Bake at 375° for 10 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and cheese melts; cool 10 minutes.

 

Sources:

1 http://www.indepthinfo.com/eggplants/history.htm

2 http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2858/2

3 http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/eggplant-parmesan