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Herb Scented Eggplant Slices

Eggplant is a member of the nightshade family, relative to potatoes and tomatoes. Technically it is a fruit, specifically a berry, but most always thought of as a vegetable. You’ll find eggplants ranging from two inches to twelve inches long and colors from deep dark purple to nearly pure white. When buying eggplant, look for firm, smooth unblemished skins on purple or white globes that are heavy for their size. Avoid brown or soft spots. A small eggplant is usually sweeter than a large one. Eggplant is a good source of potassium and folic acid. Store eggplant in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator.
Fried eggplant is the most common preparation (usually dipped in egg and then crushed cracker crumbs, and fried in oil.) The herb scented eggplant slices add up to a super delicious dish without extra calories that works well with chicken or beef. Rubbing ginger and garlic into Japanese eggplants before grilling packs a wallop of flavor with little effort; I serve this dish with fish. Baba Ghanouj with tomatoes and herbs is a nice variation from the regular recipe. Bon appetit!

Serves four

1 1/2 to 2 pounds eggplant, washed, stem end removed and discarded
Kosher salt
Olive oil for dipping and drizzling
Juice of 2 lemons
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Smoked paprika, to taste
About 1 1/2 cup chopped fresh mixed herbs (parsley, basil, rosemary, thyme, Greek Oregano, and sage)
About 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese or breadcrumbs
Optional: 2 firm ripe tomatoes, cored, seeded, and chopped

To prepare:

Cut eggplant into one-half-inch thick slices and sprinkle with salt. Let stand about fifteen minutes, place in colander and rinse with cold water, drain well, then pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with pepper and paprika.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly coat the bottom of a large baking dish with oil. Meanwhile in a mixing bowl toss the herbs together with just enough oil until they glisten. Coat the slices of eggplant with herbs. Place a layer of slices in the prepared baking dish, sprinkle lemon juice and olive oil; repeat with another layer; continuing until all the eggplant is on the dish. Scatter cheese or breadcrumbs over the top and bake until the eggplant is tender to the point of a fork, about thirty to forty minutes. Let stand about ten minutes before cutting into individual serving size portions.
Option: Scatter tomatoes between the layers of eggplant and top with both breadcrumbs and cheese before baking.

Related Recipes

Baba Ghanouj (Eggplant) with Garlic, Tomato, and Herbs
Grilled Eggplant with Ginger, Jalapeño Pepper, and Sesame Oil
Basmati Rice with Toasted Coconut, Cashews and Dried Blueberries