Eggplant to vary your home prepared meals

Try including fresh eggplant into your diet this summer.

Eggplant to vary your home prepared meals

Are you looking for in-season produce to add variety to cooking at home? Summer is the best time to eat locally grown produce. Michigan State University Extension suggests eggplant, grown during mid- to late-summer. Eating in-season, locally grown produce is not only good for the local economy, but it tastes even more delicious as it has not traveled far. Eggplant is a vegetable that is best eaten within just a few days of harvest. July marks the beginning of eggplant season, which runs through the end of October.

Eggplant is a versatile vegetable and is commonly used as a meat substitute in dishes because of its texture. While purple is the most popular color of eggplant, they can also be green, white or striped in color. The inside of an eggplant is cream colored and soft. Eggplants are a member of the nightshade family, which also includes tomatoes and hot peppers.

Like all vegetables, eggplant is high in fiber and low in calories. Vegetables are an important aspect of a healthy and balanced diet and should make up a little more than one-quarter of your plate at meals.

For more information on how to use fresh produce, where to donate an abundance of produce, food safety, preservation tips and fact sheets on fresh produce visit the Michigan Fresh website.

The recipe below is an easy eggplant recipe option for an entrée or a side dish at any meal.

Mediterranean Roasted Eggplant with Tomato Sauce

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

2 eggplants (small)

1 cup pizza sauce (low sodium or spaghetti sauce)

1⁄4 cup yogurt (low-fat plain)

1 garlic clove (finely chopped)

 Vegetable oil spray (as needed)

Instructions

1. Wash hands thoroughly with warm water and soap.

2. Preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit.

3. Wash and remove the stem end, and slice the eggplants into half-inch slices.

4. Spray a baking pan with vegetable oil spray and lay the eggplant in the pan in a single layer.

5. Spoon low sodium pizza or spaghetti sauce on each slice.

6. Bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven.

7. Stir the yogurt and garlic together.

8. Drizzle the sauce in thin lines on each of the eggplant slices before serving. You can do this by putting the sauce in a plastic squirt bottle or using a spoon.

9. Serve immediately as an entrée or side dish.

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