Eggplants are not only appealing to look at, with their shiny purple skin; they are also healthy and delicious. The familiar nightshade family of vegetables, which includes tomatoes and peppers, also includes eggplants. Eggplants grow much like tomatoes, hanging down from plants that grow three to four feet high. Eggplants are high in dietary fiber and contain many essential nutrients, such as manganese, copper and vitamins B1, B3 and B6, and they are low in calories. Methods for cooking eggplant are numerous, but baking is easy and produces a dish that may tempt even the pickiest palate.

Things You'll Need

Slice two eggplants in half lengthwise. Scoop out and reserve the insides, leaving about a quarter inch of flesh inside the shell. Leave the stem on the end of the fruit. Place the eggplant halves, cut side up, on a baking sheet and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. Place in a 325-degree oven for 15 minutes.

Cut the reserved eggplant flesh into bite-size pieces and place in a colander. Remove excess moisture from the eggplant by sprinkling the pieces with salt and allowing them to drain for several minutes. Rinse the pieces to remove the salt; this also removes any bitterness.

Coat a skillet with olive oil. Chop an onion and two cloves of garlic and sauté both in the olive oil until golden. Salt and pepper to taste. Add the eggplant pieces and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Continue cooking the eggplant over low heat while preparing the tomatoes.

Place the tomatoes in a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds and remove; peel off the skin and chop them into small pieces. Add the tomatoes to the eggplant and onions. Chop a handful of fresh marjoram and add it to the mixture. Cook over low heat for 15 minutes.

Spoon heaping mounds of the tomato-and-eggplant mixture into each roasted eggplant shell. Sprinkle with grated mozzarella cheese and return to the oven for 25 minutes. Remove the baked eggplant from the oven and place on a serving tray. Sprinkle toasted pine nuts on top before serving.