While eggplant was first cultivated in India over 4000 years ago, it is one of the least widely appreciated vegetables in the Western World. Eggplant was believed by superstitious Europeans to induce insanity and was known as the “Mad Apple” until only a few centuries ago. Fortunately the Arabs (Moors) brought this vegetable to Spain and the rest is history. Many friends have told me that they find this vegetable intimidating to prepare–but I have a foolproof way to grill the eggplant so that you can use it for a variety of dishes. First cut the eggplant in 1 inch slices and place on baking sheet lined with paper towels. Salt the slices, and let sit for 1/2 hour. The salt will cause the eggplant to “sweat.” Then, squeeze out any excess liquid with more paper towels–this removes any bitterness. Brush eggplant generously with olive oil then broil in the oven or on the grill for about 20 min or until browned. Now it’s ready for anything–sandwiches with melted cheese, salads, or the Arabic dish called M’Nazaleh. M’Nazaleh is basically an eggplant casserole, where the slices are layered with lamb sauteed with onions and garlic, flavored with allspice, and drenched with a chunky tomato sauce. Served on a bed of garlic rice this dish will make you “mad” for eggplant in a good way!