Eggplant - Meatless Monday with Katie Cizewski

I have heard a few vegetarian friends say that growing up they never ate eggplant, that they didn't like it, though they may not have given it a fair chance. But then, after becoming vegetarians or vegans - and growing up some - they gave eggplant another chance and were amazed to find out that eggplant is really good. Then, once the dynamic fruit was on their radar, they started to notice just how often it shows up in cuisine from all around the world. My point is: that eggplant is a great substitute for meat, especially in the cold months ahead when you may want to eat something a little heartier. Here are some of the ways that eggplant can be prepared and the cultures that inspired or created these dishes. The first, and my favorite, is thin sliced eggplant that has been breaded and fried. This preparation is typical in Italian food and tastes great on top of penne pomodoro with a generous helping of ricotta salata. Another favorite of mine is eggplant cooked in olive oil with ginger and soy sauce. Serve this over short grain brown rice and you've got the Chow Fun specialty - Chinese Eggplant - minus a few of the calories. Ratatouille is a traditional French dish much like a vegetable stew composed of tomatoes, garlic, onions, zucchini, and of course, eggplant. And then there are countless traditional Indian preparations of eggplant - not surprising as eggplant is native to India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. One of the more popular Indian preparations of eggplant is Baingan Bharta - or eggplant curry - this one is spicy and creamy.

And that is just the beginning; the list of unique eggplant dishes goes on. Maybe you'd like to add one of your favorites in the comments section below?