UNITED STATES—I would argue that I am someone who is open to trying new foods. As a kid, I was an avid lover of fruits and veggies. When it comes to fruit, I don’t think there is a fruit that I haven’t tried, but I’m sure there are some out there that have snuck by me. However, I want to focus on veggies a bit, particularly one that I found to be tastier than I imagined.

I was recently out to dinner and I told my palate that I wanted to try something different. In all honesty, I’ve been trying to eat a lot healthier and I have been contemplating going vegan. Going vegan is not easy because I’m someone who needs a bit of protein to function and I’m NOT the biggest fan of seafood, I don’t eat red meat and I’m not trying to eat beans daily. So being vegan does place one in a bit of a pickle. Also you can’t be a vegan eating chicken or pork (not pork lover either).

So with that said, I had plenty of options to choose from, but something told me try the eggplant parmesan. Now let me be clear I’ve seen eggplant plenty of times at the grocery store, but I have NEVER had it or never been inclined to try it. I debated and debated and debated, and finally I pulled the trigger and said, you know what, I’m trying the eggplant parmesan and man did it knock my socks off. I had no idea eggplant was so tasty and what it tastes like. My mother compared it to a cucumber with a bit more water, I argued that seemed odd considering how pliable the vegetable is, but I trusted her information.

The crazy thing about eating this dish was if you told me it was not eggplant I would have NOT known, and I’m being honest. How so? Eggplant has a meaty structure, and if it had NOT been for me knowing I was eating eggplant I got the impression I was eating meat and I was satisfied as a result. I was satiated eating this dish and I did not miss the meat. This is a dish that is notable for being cooked with chicken, but can be substituted with eggplant.

It was fried, so that may not be as healthy, but I think the frying of the veggie gives it that crusty exterior that makes you think you’re eating meat when you are not. I was so pleased with the dish that I decided, I am going to try this dish at home. So I went to the store, purchased eggplant for the first time in my life and made the dish. I will admit the dish was indeed labor intensive. I had to thinly slice the eggplant, I had to have egg, I had to batter the veggie with breadcrumbs, I had to fry it, I had to put together the tomato sauce by scratch, the list goes on.

Eggplant parmesan is not just a work of art, but it tests you in the kitchen to have patience. However, about an hour of prep work and cooking the dish is complete and I’m ready to eat. Pleased with my efforts I would say I have a new dish that I’ll be crafting at least 1 to 2 times a month. So what am I saying, don’t be afraid to try food items that you have never had before. You might shock yourself with how much you like.

Written By Jason Jones