Calico Farms

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 Eggplant  Featured Vegetable - Eggplant: History, Facts and Recipe

Eggplant is a big favorite in many areas of the South. Thomas Jefferson, who experimented with many varieties of plants in his Virginia garden, is credited with the introduction of eggplant to North America. Of Asian origin, the early varieties were very bitter to the taste, but cultivation and crossbreeding have greatly improved the flavor. Eggplant is delicious hot or cold and can be enjoyed marinated, stuffed, roasted, grilled, fried, in a casserole, in stews, or on brochettes. Sliced eggplant absorbs oil like a sponge, but a good bread crumb or batter coating will help, and make sure the oil is preheated.

Complementary spices include allspice, basil, bay leaves, garlic, chile powder, oregano, sage, thyme, marjoram, and parsley. It's a natural combined with tomatoes and onions, as in the popular dish Ratatouille.

Male eggplants have fewer seeds (which are often bitter) than the female; they have a rounder, smoother blossom end or base. The blossom end of a female eggplant is generally indented. Store an eggplant in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator where it should keep for several days. It may be blanched or steamed then frozen for up to six months.

Eggplant Yield: 1 pound = 3 to 4 cups chopped.

Featured Recipe: Moussaka

A delicious dish for eggplant lovers, you can substitute lamb or a mixture of pork and beef. A Greek recipe.

INGREDIENTS:

2 medium eggplants
2 teaspoons salt
1 pound lean ground beef
1 can (14.5 ounces) tomatoes, drained
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon oregano
dash cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 eggs, slightly beaten

PREPARATION:

Slice eggplants in 1/2-inch slices. In a large kettle, boil eggplant slices 5 to 10 minutes, until tender. Drain in colander or on paper towels. Sprinkle eggplant with 2 teaspoons of salt and place a layer of paper towels on top of the salted slices.

Place a heavy casserole or bowl on top of eggplant, pressing down to squeeze out excess water. Arrange half of the eggplant slices in a
13x9x2-inch baking dish.

In a large skillet, brown ground beef; drain off excess fat. Add drained tomatoes, breaking up with a spoon. Add tomato sauce, garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, oregano, and cinnamon.

Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Spread meat mixture over the eggplant. Top meat mixture with remaining eggplant slices. In a medium saucepan, melt butter.  Stir in flour; remove from heat. Gradually stir in milk; return to heat and cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Add shredded cheese and continue stirring until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth. Add a small portion of the mixture to the eggs, beating quickly, then return egg mixture to sauce in saucepan, whisking in quickly. Pour cheese sauce over the all. Bake at 400° for 30 minutes, or until topping is set. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. This eggplant recipe serves 6.