How to Get Someone to Try Eggplant
Why Doesn't Everyone Love Eggplant?
Eggplant is a low-calorie vegetable with important nutrients, so why isn't it as popular as the tomato, pepper, and potato--vegetables in the same family?
Part of the reason may be that eggplant hasn't always been as widely available as it is today, and many people never tasted it growing up. There are five reasons why people dislike certain foods and one of them is experience. To develop a taste for any particular food, it needs to be part of the diet. The more you eat a food, the more accustomed your palate becomes to it.
Another reason may be texture. Eggplant is mainly water and has a spongy texture. Some people dislike any food with this feel to it. So eggplant is not likely to be high on the list of preferred foods for them.
But often what makes someone dislike a certain food is the brain and its preconceived views. The idea of a food can actually impact how it tastes. Research has shown that taste can be altered by expectations. And let's face it, eggplant is a strange looking vegetable, and when cooked, an unappetizing grayish color. The brain can do all kinds of things with the idea of eggplant.
Make Eggplant Appealing
So the challenge in getting someone to try eggplant for the first time is to make the idea of eating eggplant attractive. Here are a few tips:
1. Don't serve it alone. Use eggplant in a casserole or stew where it's color and texture are disguised.
2. Combine it with tomatoes and cheese. The nutty flavor of eggplant mixes well with the acidity of tomatoes and creaminess of cheese. It's no wonder that ratatouille and eggplant parmesan are popular eggplant dishes.
3. Peel the eggplant. If the eggplant is large or white, chances are the skin will be rubbery and bitter. Peel the eggplant before using. Smaller, young eggplants are fine to use without peeling.
4. Don't overcook the eggplant. To avoid a too-mushy texture, be sure not to overcook the eggplant. You don't want it to be chewy, but cook it only until it is tender.
5. Make sure the eggplant is fresh. When you buy eggplants, make sure they are firm and unspotted. Bruises or marks on the eggplant can mean that the flesh is decaying underneath.
Extol Eggplant's Virtues
It doesn't hurt to talk up what makes eggplant a good food. Eggplant is a low calorie food--unless you deep fry it!--one serving (1 cup) is only 33 calories. It's high in fiber and contains potassium, Vitamin A, C, E and K. Plus eggplant is very low in saturated fats and cholesterol, so it helps with cardiovascular health. Rich in antioxidants, especially in the skin, eggplant helps fight against cancer.
Try this Recipe
Eggplant and Zucchini Casserole
1 1/2 lbs zucchini, sliced lengthwise 1/4 inch
1 1/2 lbs eggplant, peeled and sliced lengthwise 1/4 iinch
1 large shallot
1 lb plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 cup feta cheese
1/4 cop chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup dry bread crumbs
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Oil 2 rimmed baking sheets. Place zucchini strips on one and eggplant on the other. Brush the vegetables with oil and salt and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes or until tender. In a skillet, heat 2 T of olive oil and cook shallot until softened, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook for about a minute until slightly softened. Season with salt and pepper.
In a large shallow baking dish layer half of the eggplant, followed by a fourth of the tomatoes, half of the feta cheese, and half of the basil. Next, layer zucchini slices, 1/4 tomatoes, eggplant, rest of the basil, 1/4 tomatoes, and zucchini. Top with the rest of the feta and tomatoes. Sprinkle bread crumbs over and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 20 minutes until crisp and bubbling.
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