Eggplant is both delicious and exotic

Katy G. Wilkens | Jun 6, 2016, 11:34 a.m.
Enjoy this tasty eggplant baba ghanoush on a warm summer day.

I don’t have luck growing big eggplants in my garden. We just don’t get enough hot days in the Northwest. Small eggplants though – those I can grow! Sometimes called fingerling or Japanese eggplants, they can ripen in two months of our lean summers. I love their light purple flowers with bright yellow centers but spotting their royal purple skin under the big furry leaves is like finding a prince’s ransom.

My favorite way to cook finger eggplants is to rub them with oil, grill them on the barbecue and serve them with barbecued lamb chops. Many recipes call for sprinkling eggplant with salt to remove bitterness, but finger eggplant is tender and not bitter, so you don’t need to use all that salt, which is so unhealthy for you. Once you factor out the salt, eggplant can be a healthy dish, especially if you grill it rather than fry it. Try the recipes below for dishes worthy of a king!

Beth’s eggplant

4-6 finger eggplants

Several cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/3 cup olive oil

Fresh basil, chopped

Cut up eggplants. Toss in a bowl with garlic, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and basil. Soak for at least an hour, if not overnight. Place on a hot grill until soft. Serve immediately, or serve cold.

Nutritional information:

Calories: 212, Carbohydrates: 12 grams, Protein: 1 gram, Sodium: 7 milligrams

Baba ghanoush

2 cloves minced garlic

4-6 finger eggplant (1 pound)

¼ cup parsley

3 tablespoons tahini

2 tablespoons lemon juice

In a small frying pan, sauté minced garlic for a few minutes until golden. Remove from heat. Grill eggplants on the grill until skin is charred, or bake in the oven at 450-500 degrees until soft, about 10-15 minutes. Cut eggplants in half, scoop out the inside and put in a food processor bowl. Add garlic, parsley, tahini and lemon juice. Process until smooth. Serve with the traditional pita bread – or to reduce sodium even more - serve with corn tortillas. Toast the tortillas on the grill as you cook the eggplant.

Nutritional information:

Calories: 80, Protein: 4 grams, Carbohydrates: 10 grams, Sodium: 150 milligrams

The information in this column is meant for people who want to keep their kidneys healthy and blood pressure down by following a low-sodium diet. In most cases, except for dialysis patients, a diet high in potassium is thought to help lower high blood pressure. These recipes are not intended for people on dialysis without the supervision of a registered dietitian.

[Katy G. Wilkens is a registered dietitian and department head at Northwest Kidney Centers. A recipient of the Susan Knapp Excellence in Education Award from the National Kidney Foundation Council on Renal Nutrition, she has a Master of Science degree in nutritional sciences from the University of Washington. See more of her recipes at www.nwkidney.org.]

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