Wes Grows Eggplants

This past weekend while I was on an amazing girls weekend to celebrate the bacheloretteness of the one-and-only AKS, Tanner was in Memphis at the M-Town Throwdown nuptials of Andrew and Nicole (now both) Hinson. While there, he stayed with one of our groomsmen and his wife (and two children)–Wes and Amanda and family. I had heard tale from when Tanner went to BBQ Fest in May (sans me this time because it was too much for me as a tiny little baby girl who has long since lost my college gusto to sweat it out and consume large quantities of food and alcohol all day) that Wes had quite the garden in his back yard. Growing all kind of things from strawberries to lemons to eggplant. Tanner, of course, made fun of Wes for his huge garden and couldn’t wait to tell me about it when he got home.

I, of course, said, “Well why didn’t you get him to send us home anything!?” So, this time he did. An eggplant. While it’s been sitting in our kitchen all week, I am determined to use it this week. I don’t love eggplant, don’t like eggplant (not sure I’ve ever had it though), so I’m going to take the advice of a book I’ve been reading (read: skimming for interesting tidbits) called The Secrets of Skinny Girls. I don’t normally do well with “self-help” type books, but this one was on sale at the Borders “going out of business sale” and it was right by the front (impulse buy) and it has profiles of all these different women “who have to work at being skinny.” It outlines their meal habits and the “rules” they tend to stick to and also their exercise plans. Some of the book is a little silly, but like I said, I’m basically skimming it for interesting tidbits. Secret Number 3 of Skinny Girls is to “Rejoice in New Fresh Tastes” (what?!–the great thing about this book is that it tells you the “rule” and then gives you the “Real Chick’s Way to Make it Happen” :/).

The book says, “Here’s where we’re going to focus on widening our horizons…Shake up your food world and discover new, healthier favorites that you’ll want to come back to time and time again…When you’re looking to shake up your food wardrobe, you have to start in the veggie section of your grocery store…so every time you go, try a new vegetable, look up some recipes, and see if you like it.”  You see where I’m going with this, right?

So we’ve got this eggplant in our kitchen and Tanner asked around while he was home earlier this week about how to cook it and the overwhelming response was smothered in cheese. Now, I’m all for that, but I’m also for trying to enjoy this crazy veggie in a low-calorie dinner kind of way, so I’m searching how to do that now. Searching for eggplant recipes, I came across this blog called Cheap, Healthy, Good – Frugal Recipes, Food Tips, No Mayo and I was intrigued. While I didn’t love one of the recipe they gave for the eggplant, I found some other cool stuff there and will definitely be going back for seconds (haha. 🙂 You see what I did THERE, right?)

Like this, for instance, on the City Kitchen Chronicles section of the Cheap, Healthy, Good blog, I was reading an article that was supposedly about eggplant when I stumbled upon this: As the girl is writing about shopping at her local farmer’s market for veggies (non-negotiable even though she’s on a super strict budget, she says, “Eggplant. I know, they’re not adventurous or weird or rare at all. But other than breaded and fried and smothered in marinara and cheese, I’ve never been a huge fan. I stir-fry a lot, and any time I’ve stir-fried eggplant it’s either undercooked or dissolved into mush. My friend K. makes fantastic eggplant, but any time I’ve tried to duplicate her dish, I’ve been sorely disappointed.” Though I’ve never cooked (or probably had) eggplant, I’m feeling her pain. Similar to butternut squash, I imagine it to be difficult to cut and hard to cook…but she saved me with this:

Eggplant Mini Pizzas

  • 1  eggplant
  • 1 teaspoon olive or canola oil (or a few spritzes of cooking spray)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 oz goat cheese (or other…we will probably substitute mozzarella)
  • dried basil, to taste
  • dried oregano, to taste
  • dried chili flakes, to taste

Slice eggplant into thin rounds, about ½ inch. Salt eggplant and let sit in a colander 20-30 minutes. (This step leeches out the bitterness.) Mix tomato paste and seasonings in a small bowl or mug. Rinse eggplant and pat dry with paper towels. Toss eggplant with oil, salt, and pepper. You can also spray your baking sheet with Pam. Set oven or toaster oven to broil. Arrange eggplant slices on baking sheet (covered with aluminum foil, if you like.) Cook eggplant until lightly browned. Flip the eggplant, and top each with some tomato paste mixture and goat cheese. Cook eggplant pizzas until goat cheese is melty and ever-so-slightly browned.

Also awesome about this site is that they give the fat and calorie calculations for the recipes they provide. This eggplant pizza concoction is just 155 calories (up or down some if you use spaghetti sauce over the tomato paste and mozzarella over the goat cheese).

Of course, this is kind of a cheaters way to “like” a new veggie…make it into a pizza, but we might try it. What I’m trying to avoid is making some kind of “bake” or lasagna that means we will have a ton of it left over that probably after the first night, we won’t go back to and end up throwing it out.

I have found with my husband, it’s  good to present him two options I’m ok with and then let him choose. Sweet, right? Right, but also so that it’s also a little bit his fault if the thing is terrible so I don’t feel so bad about flaking him with a bad meal. So here’s another option from AllRecipes.com: Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan.

Looks cheesy and something we could probably go for.

Basically, you hollow out the eggplant after you slice it down the middle and then saute it in a large skillet over med-high heat with all the other ingredients (except the mozzy cheese) in olive oil.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium eggplants, cut in half lengthwise and hollowed out to 1/4 inch flesh rim
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Then you spoon it all back into the eggplant halves and place them in a shallow baking dish skin side down and cover them with the mozzy cheese and bake them for thirty minutes.

I can handle that. Stay tuned for the Menu Monday blog (that usually gets written on Sunday) to find out what we’ll have.  That is if the veggie that has been in my kitchen for approximately six days now, is still any good.

Is this a veggie you love? Do you have a way to cook eggplant that we should try (remembering our new stipulations: high protein, low-fat–and for me–low cal)? Share in the comments.


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