Thursday, August 18, 2011

Shades of Purple Eggplant

     Eggplants are one of the very attractive vegetables alongside beets.  For the first time I tried the long skinny kind and they are delicious.  To my surprise they were quite sweet and not so bitter like the larger ones.  I do not recall eggplants in the family gardens as a kid and am not sure why.  One things for sure, they will find a place in my kitchen, if not the garden.  
     Eggplants are actually a fruit and are in season now.  They are valuable for many antioxidant properties that are said to be anti-cancer and preventative of high cholesterol.  Fiber and some other vitamins are an added bonus.  An interesting factoid is that eggplants contain nicotine.  That's right, the nasty stuff from cigarettes!  They (unlike cancer sticks) do not need to come with the warning that they pose a risk to your health, however.  You would have to eat 20lbs of eggplant to get the same amount of nicotine you would from one cigarette.

Chickpeas, Zucchini, Feta and Garlic & Basil scented Eggplant  
     This turned out to be a very nice vegetarian dinner.  My husband usually prefers meat but said he would have no problem if I made this for dinner again.  It was really easy and most suited for a lazy summer day, though I have a feeling I will be looking it up when in need of a quick weeknight meal. 

1 medium sized light purple eggplant
1 skinny black japanese eggplant
1 small heirloom zucchini
2 8 oz cans of chickpeas 
1 c of carrot-apple juice (can juice yourself or combine)
1 small head of garlic
1/4 tsp of kosher salt
1/4 tsp of garlic powder
2 oz of feta cheese
1 cup of fresh basil leaves

1.  Chop eggplant and zucchini into cubes (about 1/2 inch).  Heat a large saute pan coated with extra virgin olive oil on medium.  Saute zucchini for five minutes, tossing in the pan after a few minutes to avoid burning.  Then add eggplant and saute vegetables until softened (about 10 minutes).  Raise the heat to high and deglaze the pan with 1/2 of the carrot-apple juice scraping up all the yummy brown from the bottom while gently moving the vegetables around.  Reduce heat to medium, cover and allow flavors to party in the pan until completely absorbed.  Remove vegetables to a dish and stick in the microwave or oven (DO NOT TURN ON THE OVEN OR MICROWAVE).
2.  Coat pan with olive oil and heat to medium.  Saute chickpeas until slightly browned without touching for about 3 minutes.  Gently toss in the pan to brown more of the chickpeas.  Raise heat and deglaze pan with other 1/2 of juice.  Add vegetables to pan.  Add salt, garlic powder, and garlic cloves and toss.  Heat on low with lid on for five minutes.  
3.  Transfer peas and vegetables to a bowl.  Add basil leaves and toss gently.  Crumble feta cheese on top and savor the flavor!

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