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    Posted January 27, 2011 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Share your school lunch secrets

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    Ode to the Eggplant


    Ode to the Eggplant

    Dear aubergine, my melanzane,

    Your purple hue bewitches.

    In royal garb, you grace my plate,

    Tomatoes want your dishes.

    Love vegetable, plump, perfect, too-

    Fried cheesey or with spice.

    I cannot live without you near,

    Fine eggplant, “tast-es” nice!

    It's just a little ditty I wrote to praise the vegetable that finds it's way into my kitchen nearly every week.  And as a healthy eater, it really fills the bill (and the appetite) at lunch or dinnertime whether I prepare it as eggplant parmigiano, fried eggplant and roasted pepper sandwiches, vegetarian white lasagne, roulades, bread salad, primavera pasta or any other dish that eggplant is complementary to.  It's got a texture all it's own and with tomato sauce, olive oil, and/or other accompaniments it works its charm every time.

    Here are the photos of a cooking class I had this summer with two friends in Western Romania who learned that eggplant doesn't always mean "salate de vinete."  Although a great appetizer spread for breads, this fire-roasted mashed eggplant is usually mixed with lots of onion and a good helping of salt. This popular dish in Romanian households wasn't the only game in town for the delectable "legume" (Romanian for vegetable) which is close to perfection here in their organic gardens of the countryside and the best I've ever tasted.

    And so we cooked all together and then ate up the spoils with some fresh baked bread and cool fruit for dessert.  Now this simple stuffed eggplant lunch was a recipe which they've made several times since then.

    I'd like to see the "lunch ladies" (or gentlemen) try this on for size and also explore some other interesting eggplant recipes in the lunchroom-this one has a nice combination of sweet and savory just right for a kid's palate, too. Served warm or at room temperature, it is a complete meal in itself.  The filling can be made ahead and refrigerated for a day in preparation.  The baked eggplants with stuffing freeze well also.

    If you'd like the recipe, please write me at knowenglishnow@yahoo.com.

    And Jamie Oliver...I'm on YOUR side!

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