How to Prepare and Cook Eggplant

Eggplant has very little nutritional value, but it does have a lot of fiber, an element that cannot be discounted.  It is good for weight conscious people.  One cup has only 25 calories, and it is filling.  The trick is how to cook it.Before cooking eggplant, slice it in the shape you want for the dish you are preparing, sprinkle the slices with salt and let them sit for thirty minutes.  That establishes two things; It takes out a lot of bitterness, and when you cook it the oil it absorbs is a great less than if you didn't salt it.  The versatile eggplant can be used in baking for frying, as an appetizer, in a main dish, or in soups and salads.  Eggplant from the Farmer's Market is decidedly fresher and are not likely shipped here from across the continent as supermarket eggplants are.To preserve fresh eggplants for winter, I usually buy as many as I can carry when I find fresh ones, then the ones I intend to use for salads or soups are cut into cubes.  For eggplant Parmesan and the Greek Dish, Mossaka, I slice it like a salami.  The longer eggplant are sliced lengthwise.  If they are not too large around, they are cut right down the middle.  After salting I squeeze out the excess water and place the round slices (the cubes are placed separately) on a cookie sheet, spray them with olive oil spray.  Broil, don't fry, the eggplant until they are dark brown, allow to cool, then separate and place into freezer bags.  The amount in each bag should be what you need for one dish.  Then in the winter when fresh eggplants are no longer available you have what you need.  The freezing does not seem to affect the fresh quality.Upside Down Eggplant Casserole (Maqloobeh)serves 6-82       large eggplants, sliced into 1/2-inch thick slices2      cups short grain rice, rinsed1      medium onion, chopped finely1      16-ounce frozen soy crumbles for meals4      cups watersalt and pepper to taste1      teaspoon allspice1/4  teaspoon nutmeg1/2  cup toasted pine nuts-Sprinkle the eggplant slices with salt; then place in a strainer.  Allow to drain for 30 minutes.-Squeeze the eggplant slices gently.  Place on a cookie sheet, spray with olive oil spray.  Broil until golden brown.  Turn, spray and broil on the other side.-Heat the oil in a large pot, add the chopped onion and saute for couple of minutes.-Add the soy protein and all the seasoning.  Stir and saute for couple of minutes.  Remove from the heat, place the eggplant slices over the soy protein.-Spread the rice evenly over the top and add the boiling water.  Season with more salt and pepper.-Cover the rice and allow to simmer over low leat until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes.-Turn off the heat; then allow the rice to finish cooking in its own steam.-Just before serving, invert large and flat serving platter over the top of the pan.  Hold securely and turn over so that the rice is at the bottom and the meat on the top.  Sprinkle the pine nuts on top of the soy protein and serve hot with tomato salad.