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A stuffed eggplant is a hollowed eggplant stuffed with vegetables and seasonings, usually topped with cheese. The eggplant is boiled, the ingredients sometimes fried, and the final stuffed dish is baked to bring everything together. Common ingredients are Parmesan cheese, olive oil, and tomatoes. There are also vegetarian and vegan options that do not include meat or cheese. Stuffed eggplant dishes can be very healthy depending on the ingredients and cooking methods used; for example, they are usually low fat but contain a lot of necessary vitamins.
Preparing an eggplant for the dish involves washing, drying, and cutting it. Sometimes the eggplant is halved, similar to how a green pepper is halved before stuffing. Other times the top is removed to scrape out the majority of its innards, but the vegetable is not halved, only stuffed from the top. Enough of the flesh is left on the skin to make sure it holds up in the oven.
Many ingredients can be used when preparing stuffed eggplant, though it often varies based on the recipe’s style. For example, spices such as red pepper and prepackaged Italian seasonings are often used. Furthermore, parsley, tomatoes, and garlic are staples of many eggplant recipes. Cheeses such as Parmesan and mozzarella are commonly integrated and may be utilized differently based on the particular recipe. Finally, ingredients such as wine, sausage, and olive oil can be seen in some styles of stuffed eggplant.
Stuffed eggplant dishes can be made completely vegetarian or vegan. Vegetarians need only omit meat, while vegans can omit meat and cheese. Stuffed eggplant is a very flexible dish in which the stuffing can be just about anything. In addition to replacing meat with tofu and cheese with a non-dairy substitute, a cook can replace the recommended vegetables with any of his or her favorites.
A plain eggplant is low in fat, sugar, and and carbohydrates, but contains plenty of potassium, folic acid, and vitamin C. It belongs to the nightshade family and is closely related to tomatoes. For the most part, stuffed eggplant is only as unhealthy as what a cook adds to it; for example, a lot of cheese, red meat, and white rice can make a stuffed eggplant dish a less healthy option. In addition, a 2008 study in India found that nearly 10 percent of the study participants were allergic to eggplant. Another downside to eating eggplant is its nicotine content, though the amount of nicotine the plant contains is insignificant compared to secondhand smoking.