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We all have foods and recipes that have been in the family for generations. They are the smells and flavors of our history and culture. From them arise memories of good and, sometimes, challenging times. Some foods, though familiar and comforting, are of flavors we couldn’t appreciate when we were children with undeveloped palates. One of these such dishes has become a fresh tasting and healthy favorite in my adult years.

Chopped eggplant or eggplant salad is something my grandmother has made for years and still does, which is quite energetic for a 90 year old! It’s one of those recipes in which she never measured the ingredients, I never did either until I started calorie counting, and my grandmother can’t tell you the process, you have to watch her. It can be eaten as a dip, as a side dish to fish, chicken or pork, or as a tasty lunch with crackers, veggies and maybe some cheese. I adapted this recipe to make it low in calories, while still getting all the flavor that my grandmother does…thanks for always teaching me Bubby, I love you.

Eggplant on it’s own doesn’t have a lot of flavor, chopped it does have a rich texture. There are so many ways you can add flavor to this recipe and I will make suggestions later on. It also should be noted, especially if you want to make it a meal, that two medium to large eggplants only yield about 1.5 cups, though it’s simple enough to make frequently. I have included a lot of photos in the directions just because, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

PLEASE REMEMBER that the calories mentioned apply to the brands and quantities of the ingredients I use. Please alter the calories based on the brands and quantities of ingredients you use. Same brand items made in the United States, may have a different calorie content than same brand items made here in Canada, please always read the calories on the label. I calculate the calories in the recipe section of the “Lose It” app on my iPhone. Lose It is available for Android, iOS, Nook, Kindle and on the Web.

Chopped-Eggplant

Ingredients:
– 314 g/11.2 oz. Eggplant (this is the weight of eggplant that has been baked, the skin peeled and the stem removed – please see directions), 107 calories
– 1 tbsp. white vinegar, 3 calories.
– 1 tsp. olive oil, 40 calories.
– 1/2 c. Vidalia onion – diced, 32 calories.
– 1-3 cloves fresh pressed garlic (I use three, it’s not for the fainted hearted!), 4, 9 or 13 calories, depending on how much garlic you use.
– salt to taste.

Directions:
Place whole eggplants in a pan, add about an inch of water. Bake at 400ºF/200ºC until the skin is wrinkly and the eggplant(s) start to cave in (see photo below). This can take anywhere from one to two hours. I check after 45 minutes, the first time, and then every 30 minutes. This time after two and a half hours the eggplants weren’t crinkly and I thought I had over baked them, but as they cooled they wrinkled.

Eggplant-from-oven

Raw-eggplant

After removing from the oven let the eggplant(s) cool down. Once cooled, at room temperature, grab the stem, be careful of prickles, and peel the skin off with your fingers. The skin pulls off easily, watch for tiny little patches of skin being left behind, though the skin is edible. Once peeled remove the stem, it should pull off easily, however if it gives you any trouble just cut it off, saving as much flesh as possible. Place eggplant in a strainer or in a bowl and let sit and drain, at room temperature, for at least two hours. The liquid that releases is bitter. This was the first time I’ve used a strainer and my grandmother has never used one. Pour the bitter liquid down the sink. In the photo below I tipped the bowl as the liquid couldn’t be seen sitting on the clear glass.

Eggplant-strain-too

Eggplant-drainage


This is the point that I weigh the eggplant on my food scale. Place strained and weighed eggplant in a bowl and chop with a pastry cutter until it’s the texture of a lumpy-like gravy, in other words, not completely smooth nor very lumpy. If the eggplant has been cooked long enough it chops easily with the pastry cutter. I never use a food processor because it becomes too smooth and watery.

Add the rest of the ingredients and combine well with a wooden or plastic spoon. Cover and refrigerate for an hour or two for the flavors to marry.

Yield: 6, 1/4 cup servings. Each serving is 32 calories if made with the three cloves of garlic that I used. The calories do not include the red bell pepper garnish in the photo of the finished product.

Variations:
– Include finely chopped hard boiled egg in order to add protein, my grandmother almost always does this.
– Include finely diced red and/or orange bell pepper which always adds a lovely flavor.
– If you’re not a fan of Vidalia onions consider replacing with green onion or use both if your an onion fan.
– Include finely diced cucumber or zucchini adds freshness and flavor.
– Each or all of the above also offers you a larger yield. I’ve never done all the above, only two at a time, because I want to make sure that the eggplant is the predominant ingredient.
PLEASE REMEMBER, if you’re a calorie counter, to account for all the calories in variations.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do.

May your journey be delicious and the company you keep inspiring and supportive.

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