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Published: Tuesday, 6/5/2007

Ancient Foods Still Enjoyed in the Modern Kitchen

(ARA) - Some of the things we eat today are rather new to the human diet. Tomatoes were at one time thought to be inedible, possibly even poisonous, but are now part of the everyday diets of people worldwide. Other foods that make a regular appearance on our table have been feeding people since ancient times. Squash and eggplant are two such ancient foods.

Some botanists believe squash is the oldest cultivated vegetable in the Americas. Seeds found in Mexican caves have been carbon-dated to 9000 B.C. Squash varieties fall into two categories: summer squash and winter squash. Summer squash includes yellow crookneck squash, yellow straight-neck squash, zucchini and Mexican gray squash -- these are soft-skinned and don't require a lot of cooking. Winter squash have a hard skin, like acorn, butternut, spaghetti, and banana squash. All varieties of squash are rich in potassium.

Eggplants originated in India and were introduced to Europe by Middle Eastern traders. The first plants produced white, egg-shaped fruits, giving rise to the name. Mexico is the largest supplier of eggplant in North America, producing several varieties including the traditional large oval-shaped purple eggplant. Eggplant is a good source of potassium, thiamin, and vitamin B6, and a very good source of dietary fiber.

Roasted Squash and Eggplant Casserole with Chicken

1 large yellow squash

1 medium eggplant

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 fresh lemon, juiced

4 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon fresh parsley

Black pepper to taste

1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped

2 medium size chicken breasts, pre-cooked and cubed

1 cup canned tomato sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice squash and eggplant lengthwise. In a bowl, mix the oil, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, parsley, black pepper. Brush squash and eggplant with this seasoning mixture. Grill the vegetables for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or roast them in the oven under the broiler. Arrange squash, eggplant, basil and chicken in an 8x8 cooking dish and cover with tomato sauce. Heat in the oven 20 to 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutritional information per serving: calories: 161, total fat: 5.5g, saturated fat: 1g, % calories from fat: 29%, % calories from saturated fat: 5%, protein: 17g, carbohydrates: 12g, cholesterol: 40mg, dietary fiber: 5g, sodium: 292mg. Courtesy of ARA Content



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