Dr. Tim Says....
Eggplant is a member of the nightshade family as are tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and sweet potatoes. As such, eggplant is technically a fruit. As with tomatoes and other of nightshade veggies there are a number of varieties of eggplant. You'll find a wide assortment in your market these days. While it is known as eggplant in much of the western world in the U.K. this lovely ingredient is called by the much sexier aubergine (sounds like a heroine in a racy romance novel).
The large dark purple pear shaped eggplant is the most common. I love the hefty feel of a large fresh eggplant, but the larger they are the less flavorful they will be and the tougher the skin. I generally look for fruit that is no more than about 1 lb (about 8 inches long and 4 inches in diameter).
The smaller version of the larger purple skinned eggplant is often called Italian or baby eggplant. These have a somewhat more intense flavor and the flesh is much more tender. Eggplant
I love the aroma and flavor of roasted eggplant. When I was working on this recipe my wife said, "Hey, let's just eat it now," as it came out of the oven. She's right. A little sprinkle of salt, a bit of pepper and some olive oil, and that's living. But I digress.
You can use this Eggplant Pesto in place of any other pesto, but it's more subtle so you'll need more. Where about two or so tablespoons of a Basil Pesto would be enough in a pasta dish, this works great as a sauce and you can use about a half cup or so.
This is just as versatile as any other pesto. You can use it in pasta, as a spread on sandwiches or bruschetta. It also works great in making hors d'oeuvres and other appetizers. A dollop in a creamy soup like Cream of Cauliflower or Butternut Squash soup would be perfect.
This recipe is low in sodium (salt) and is safe for Coumadin (warfarin) users and those who are sensitive to gluten. Those with GERD / Acid Reflux should avoid it due to the garlic.
There is no substitute for fresh basil. Dried basil has a completely different flavor and using it in recipes is something I rarely do.
The fresh basil you will find in the market is most likely Sweet Basil. The soft green leaves bruise easily and then turn black. Because of this fresh basil doesn't keep very well.
To keep the leaves fresh, rinse gently and then wrap them in a damp paper towel. Place the bundle inside a plastic bag before putting them in the fridge. You can also put them in a glass of water stem side down like a bunch of flowers in a vase.
5 leaves fresh basil = <1 calorie, <1g fat, 0g sat fat, 0g mono fat, <1g protein, <1g carbohydrates, <1mg sodium, 0mg cholesterol
Eat well, eat healthy, enjoy life!
Timothy S. Harlan, M.D.
My eatTHISdiet is Now
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