Research suggests that one legal way a family can reduce its carbon footprint is by getting rid of the dog. For me this seems a very large sacrifice as Tilly is a very cherished companion. So in a bid to keep the dog, and still have a conscience about the environment, I have been looking for beef replacers. Ingredients that I can substitute into meals normally requiring methane-producing beef.
Eggplant is an excellent option as the spongy texture of the vegetable soaks up flavours and allows you to coat it in whatever sauce you want. Anyone who has tried eggplant moussaka, eggplant curry or eggplant parmagana will agree when with me that the versatility of this vegetable is only limited by your imagination.
Research into eggplant has also shown the presence of nasunin in the skin of the eggplant. Nasunin works to protect cell membranes from damage. In brain cell membranes this is especially important as strong cell membranes make us more capable of receiving signals from messenger molecules.
Eggplant from an environmental perspective is difficult as 83% is farmed in India and China in monocrops and the vegetables tend to have a large quantity of pesticide residue.
As with most vegetables in today’s market searching for locally grown food to cut down on our carbon footprint and organic alternates is important. Or, better yet, why not try growing this attractive vegetable at home?
Eggplants are best during Autumn. Look for eggplants that are firm and heavy for their size with vivid colour. Store the eggplants for 2-3 days in a vegetable crisper. Be careful with the skin as the eggplant will spoil if the skin is broken and can bruise easily.
For my eggplant recipe I have chosen a greek dish. This tomatoe and eggplant stew is best when served with bread, rice or pasta. I added capsicum and zucchini as I had some I needed to use and this versatility is one of the reasons I adore this simple dish.
GREEK EGGPLANT STEW
- 1-1/4 pounds japanese eggplants or 1 italian eggplant, unpeeled
- 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 large cloves garlic, minced
- freshly ground pepper
- 1 can diced tomatoes, (28-ounces) drained, juice reserved
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, preferably italian, optional.
Cut eggplant into 3/4- or 1-inch dice. Heat oil in heavy Dutch oven or large casserole. Add onion and sauté over medium heat 2 minutes. Stir in garlic. Add eggplant, salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring, over low heat until eggplant is coated with onion mixture. Add tomatoes, 1/3 cup juice from tomatoes, bay leaf and oregano and cook over high heat, stirring, until bubbling. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat, stirring often, until eggplant is tender, about 20 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Serve hot or cold, sprinkled with parsley.