Friday, August 20th 2004

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Low-Carb Diet: Solving The Mysteries Of Eggplant

TODAY'S LESSON: Eggplant is one of the least understood vegetables of late summer. Today we will unlock the secret to cooking great eggplant, all with a full-flavor but low-carb approach.

WHAT IS AN EGGPLANT? This member of the nightshade family related to the tomato originated in India and was named after its oval shape and white color.

WHY EGGPLANT TASTES SO GOOD: When cooked, eggplant has a rich, full flavor that is complemented by many ingredients. Technically, cooking condenses its intercellular air pockets, giving a fleshy texture to dishes, especially those that do not contain meat.

ADVANTAGES: Eggplant has only 30 calories and 5 grams of carbohydrates per cup of cooked vegetable and is high in folic acid, potassium and fiber.

SELECTING THE PERFECT EGGPLANT: Look for small, heavy eggplants that are fresh. The cap should be green and fresh-looking with about 1 1/2 inches of stem attached. Eggplant deteriorates quickly, so refrigerate for up to 4 days. There are a number of varieties in the marketplace:

The standard eggplant is quite large with a thick, deep purple to almost-black skin. The flesh is coarse with large seeds.

Italian, Naples, or Baby eggplant is small and round or long in shape and dark purple. The skin is thinner, the seeds are smaller and the flesh smoother.

Oriental, Chinese or Japanese eggplant is long and slender with light purple or variegated markings, with the thinnest skins. This variety is usually prepared with the skin on.

White eggplant has less moisture, losing less of its shape when cooked. Its skin is tough but the flesh is creamy and less bitter.

TRY YOUR TECHNIQUE: Try this sublime Grilled Stuffed Eggplant Rustica.

Grilled Stuffed Eggplant Rustica

Makes 4 servings of about 8 grams of carbohydrates each.

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1 tablespoon balsamic Vinegar
3 tablespoons garlic-flavored olive oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh sweet basil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large eggplant sliced into 8 pieces
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 each Boursin Herbed Goat Cheese (5.2 ounces)
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions: Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

Roast red and yellow sweet bell peppers on the grill until their skins are blackened. Transfer to another bowl, covering with plastic wrap and allowing to cool. Remove charred skins, stems and seeds before cutting into 1/2-inch strips. Add the balsamic vinegar, garlic oil, fresh basil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Reserve.

While peppers are roasting, lay the sliced eggplant on a cake rack over a sheet pan, seasoning with salt to draw out the moisture. Let sit for about 15 minutes. Dredge the slices of eggplant through the olive oil, placing them on the hot grill.Cook until well-seared on the bottom side, then turn over with a metal spatula, about 3 minutes. Allow to cook until tender but not falling apart, about 2 or 3 minutes. Transfer to cookie sheet to cool enough to handle.

Divide and spread the goat cheese across the eggplant slices. Roll the eggplant slices with the goat cheese on the inside.

Place two of the slightly warm stuffed eggplant rolls in the center of each of 4 serving dishes. Mix the peppers, divide and mound over the eggplant, allowing the juices to flow onto the plate. Sprinkle with Parmesan and serve.

Low Carb Sugar Free Peanut Butter Cookies
Makes approximately 36 servings

1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons Steviva Blend or equivalent
1/2 cup oat flour
1 cup Soy protein powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup butter
1 cup natural (no sugar added) peanut butter
3 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup finely chopped peanuts or pecans [optional]
2 Tablespoons liquid lecithin *
(or 1 1/2 Tablespoons granular lecithin plus 1/2 Tablespoon oil)
1 Tablespoon glycerin

Preparation Method:

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a small bowl, combine Steviva Blend or equivalent, oat flour, soy protein, baking soda & powder; and mix well. In another bowl, combine butter and peanut butter and beat until fluffy. Beat egg, cream, lecithin, glycerin, and vanilla into the peanut butter mixture.

Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Beat until thoroughly combined. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten by criss-crossing with the tines of a fork. (I moisten the fork with a spritz of PAM)

Top each cookie with chopped peanuts or pecans if you're opting for them. Bake in 375°F oven for 7-9 minutes, or until bottoms are lightly browned. Cool cookies on a wire rack, and enjoy!

Lecithin - both granular and liquid can be found in most health food stores. ordered online.

Carbohydrates per Serving: 1.19 - Carbohydrates per Serving minus Fiber: 0.91

For More Low Carb and Sugar Free Recipes Go To Steviva Recipes!

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