The right stuff for Lent

  • By Sue Ade
  • Tuesday, March 8, 2016 12:43pm
  • LifeFood

For the faithful who observe the Lenten season by refraining from eating meat on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and Fridays, keeping meals interesting on the obligatory days of abstinence can be challenging. With another three weeks of Lent remaining, the recipe for Baked Seafood Stuffed Eggplants is timely – but also delectable. For those finding the dish too extravagant for consumption during the penitential period, the seafood may be omitted completely or might even be saved for the celebratory occasion of Easter, should a meatless meal containing shrimp and crab prove more attractive than one comprised of ham, turkey and the like.

Steaming eggplant in a microwave oven makes light the work involved when an eggplant shell is needed for stuffing, and if you never used your microwave for cooking a whole eggplant, you cannot begin to imagine how preferable it is to boiling or baking them. An eggplant will cook in six minutes and cool down fast enough to be handled more quickly than one that has been conventionally cooked. The flesh of a microwaved eggplant is soft without being mushy, moist without being watery and tasty without being bitter.

While we’re on the subject of eggplants, I want to pass along a tip about the seeds. If there are times when the inside of your cooked eggplant appears to have more seeds than pulp, you are likely right. Although cooked eggplant seeds are palatable, too many seeds can spoil the look of your finished dish. Because “female” eggplants contain far more seeds than “male” eggplants, when possible, you should select male eggplants at the market – and telling them apart is not as difficult as you might think. On the bottom of a male eggplant there is a circular “dot,” which some recognize as a kind of “outie” bellybutton. Where a male eggplant has a dot, a female eggplant displays a “dash.” In the eggplant world, dots are best, with dashes a distant second. Either way, be sure to choose eggplants with smooth, tight skin. They should be firm and heavy for their size, free of blemishes, nicks or signs of mold.

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