Eggplants are at home in the chorus line or the spotlight

August 7, 2013 

Eggplants work as the entrée star, or they can co-star as a side dish or appetizer at any dinner table.

The vegetable, which is in good supply at farmer's markets and supermarkets, is so versatile. With a mild flavor, eggplants absorb the other flavors in which they are cooked. Eggplant Parmesan is a good example. They add a meatiness to a meatless dish.

One Bay St. Louis, Miss., restaurant uses them as the base for a scrumptious shrimp and crab au gratin. Reader Carolyn Baus of Pass Christian, Miss., loves Galatoire's seafood-stuffed eggplant and shares that recipe from the New Orleans restaurant's cookbook.

Even though eggplant has a mild flavor, sometimes it can be bitter.

Before cooking an eggplant, I slice it, place the slices on paper towels, sprinkle the slices with salt and let sit for about 15 minutes. This procedure draws out any bitterness in the eggplant. The slices are then rinsed with water and patted dry. This does not make the slices salty.

On Friday, I prepared baba ganoush or an eggplant spread to accompany a Greek chicken salad that my family loves. Now, even my 13-month-old granddaughter loves eggplant.

This dip has a sweeter flavor than hummus and can be eaten with raw vegetables, pita bread or low-sodium crackers.

I encourage you to give these two different eggplant recipes a try.

"As you probably know, Galatoire's is a wonderful restaurant in New Orleans," Baus said. "I thought maybe Dara Skinner, who wanted Vrazel's' Eggplant LaRosa recipe, would like this eggplant recipe. It is what I order every time we go."

GALATOIRE'S SEAFOOD STUFFED EGGPLANT

2 large eggplants

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste

1/2 cup seasoned dried bread crumbs

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup clarified butter

1/4 cup finely chopped scallions (white and green parts)

1/4 cup finely chopped curly parsley

2 dozen large (21 to 25 count) shrimp, boiled, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 pound lump crabmeat, cleaned

Cayenne pepper to taste

1 recipe béchamel sauce (recipe follows)

Preheat either an indoor grill or broiler on low setting.

Cut the stems and ends off the eggplants. Peel one of the eggplants and cut into 1-inch cubes. Slice the other eggplant lengthwise into 6 pieces about1/4- to 1/2-inch thick. Cut a thin slice on both sides to remove the peel. If there is any pulp remaining in the second eggplant, peel it and chop it as well. Steam the 1-inch eggplant cubes in a steamer basket until soft.

Brush the 6 strips of eggplant with olive oil, season with salt and white pepper, and grill or broil until tender and golden. Set the cooked pieces aside until it is time to put the stuffing on them.

Blend the bread crumbs and the Parmesan in a small bowl. Set aside.

Heat the clarified butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the scallions and parsley and sauté for 1 minute or until wilted. Add the shrimp, crabmeat and steamed eggplant pulp and season the mixture with salt, white pepper and cayenne pepper. Saute for another 3 to 4 minutes over medium heat. Fold in the béchamel sauce and half of the bread crumb-cheese mixture and allow the stuffing to simmer for 1 minute for all of the ingredients to marry.

Preheat broiler on the low setting.

Divide the stuffing into 6 equal portions and mold each into an oval shape. Arrange the 6 slices of cooked eggplant on a large metal platter or roasting pan and place the ovals of stuffing on them. Sprinkle the stuffed eggplants with the remaining bread crumb-cheese mixture and bake under broiler until golden brown, approximately 3 to 4 minutes.

Serve at once.

Serves 6.

-- Submitted by Carolyn Baus from "Galatoire's" cookbook

BECHAMEL SAUCE (WHITE SAUCE)

2 cups whole milk

1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

In a medium saucepan, heat the milk until simmering. In a medium sauté pan, melt the butter and slowly incorporate the flour, whisking constantly over low heat to make a blond roux. Slowly incorporate 1 cup of the heated milk into the roux, whisking constantly. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes, until the mixture becomes paste-like in consistency. Slowly incorporate the remaining milk and whisk until smooth. Makes 2- 1/2 cups.

-- Submitted by Carolyn Baus from "Galatoire's" cookbook

BABA GANOUSH

1/2 cup water

1 large eggplant, peeled and cubed

1 large Vidalia onion, diced

1 tablespoon tomato puree, no salt added

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon honey

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Put all ingredients (except the lemon and sesame seeds) in a large pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the eggplant is tender (30 to 35 minutes), adding water if needed. Pour the contents of the pot into a blender and blend until smooth, then transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice and sesame seeds and mix well. Chill for 35 to 50 minutes. Dived into equal portions. Yield: 3 cups or 4 servings.

Each serving contains, approximately: calories, 102; fat calories, 43; fat, 5 grams; saturated fat, 0.5 grams; cholesterol, 0 milligrams; protein, 2 grams; carbohydrate, 14 grams; dietary fiber, 5 grams; sodium, 5 milligrams; omega-3 fatty acids, 0.1 gram.

-- From "The Rice Diet Cookbook"

Love this app

A new app, available for download on all Apple and Android devices, makes its debut just into time for the fall Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The Manischewitz Co. announces the beta version debut of their free kosher recipe app. Included in the Manischewitz Recipe & Holiday Guide app are recipes from notable chefs, cookbook authors and home cooks. These recipes span many occasions, including Passover, Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, Shabbat, Shavout and more. Other recipe categories include gluten-free, everyday meals, lunches, side dishes and desserts.

This free app also offers recipe sharing, holiday fun facts and Shabbat times for each week and can be downloaded for free by searching for "Manischewitz" in the App Store for Apple devices or the Google Play Store for Android devices.

More ideas, please

"Rouses in Long Beach has turkey breasts on sale this week, so I've picked up two. One went in the freezer, and one went into the slow cooker," Laurie Kisslinger said. "I followed your recipe, which was printed a few months back, where you said to use Creole seasoning, liberally, which I did. It smells just like Thanksgiving here in my Long Beach house. Fantastic! This may be the first time I'm using this recipe, but it sure won't be the last.

"I have a question, though: rather than Creole seasoning, do you have any other suggestions?" Kisslinger asked. "My husband and I love it, but I'd like to share the recipe with family members back home in New Jersey, and they are rather sensitive to any type of 'heat,' even as mild as this is. I'm wondering about seasoned salt, since they don't have to worry about their sodium intake. Ideas?"

Readers, I suggested poultry seasoning and putting garlic cloves, onion or apple slices with the turkey. Do you have any other seasoning ideas for her? Please share your ideas with me.

Andrea Yeager, who can be reached at ayeager51@cableone.net, takes contributions or requests at Cook's Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535-4567.

If requesting a recipe, include the name or describe it.

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