Food For Belly Dancers: 12-Minute Bistro Eggplant Recipe
The eggplant was grown at Monticello by gourmand president, Thomas Jefferson, who was renowned for celebrating the glories of gastronomy. However, the history of this nightshade (other notable nightshades include potato, tomato and sweet pepper) is much older. Indigenous to India, the eggplant was introduced to Europe by the Moors in the eighth century upon invading Spain, then ferried over to the New World by the Spanish.
How did this relative of the tobacco plant earn such an honored place on the dining table? After all, uncooked eggplant is bitter and unappetizing. Answer: the rich, meatiness plus mellow and sensuous flavor of cooked eggplant can't be beat. In the Middle East, there are as many eggplant recipes as there as tales of the Arabian Nights.
Additionally, cooked eggplant is nutritious because it's:
- Loaded with phytonutrients; these antioxidants protect brain cell membranes from the damaging effects of free radicals
- Rich and buttery in taste, but the eggplant is cholesterol-free and therefore heart-friendly
- Although phenolic acids make eggplant bitter, they’re worth their weight in gold because they’re anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-cancer and anti-cholesterol
- This purple powerhouse is full of anthocyanins which prevent free radical damage to body and brain cells
- Rich in dietary fiber that clears out and cleans up the digestive tract — Dancers can appreciate limbering and isolating core movements on a light belly.
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Much of eggplant is water. To prepare eggplant for cooking, slice or cube and toss with salt (the salt draws out the water). Let sit about 30 minutes. Rinse and gently pat dry. Eggplant changes colors quickly; rub with lemon juice to prevent discoloration.
- 1 large eggplant, about 1-2 pounds, sliced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- lemon juice
- salt and pepper
- fresh basil leaves
- 1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
- 2 heirloom tomatoes, sliced
- Preheat oven 400º. Prepare eggplant for cooking.
- Place in glass baking tray. Brush on olive oil, lemon juice and seasonings.
- Bake 10-12 minutes, turning once.
- To serve, top each slice with mozzarella, tomato and basil.
*Lighten Up: Use less olive oil and mozzarella.