“E” is for Eggplant

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Eggplant is a a bit of a diva on produce row. In a world dominated by reds, oranges, greens and whites, this vibrant purple vegetable (well, fruit in all technicality) is one of the few that unapologetically sports this regal color. Not all eggplant sports a royal purple shell though; white, green, yellowish, and even eye-catching striped designs are available to grow in your garden. Look for heirloom varieties from reputable seed houses such as Abundant Life Seeds that have sworn off GMO seeds.

Eggplant knows that it is the diva of the garden, at least that’s what it tells me. Like a human diva, eggplant is multi-talented, demanding, and beautiful. A member of the nightshade family (think potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers), eggplant is a popular vegetable around the world.

Another great point about eggplant is it’s versatility. Eggplant’s unique structure makes it ideal for grilling, searing, frying, pureeing, stuffing, roasting, and other dry heat methods. The seeds you find inside are barely noticeable when cooked.

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Divas Need Primping

Well my foodie friend, it’s very simple! Do these things first, unless the recipe or experience tells you not to:

  • Wash well under cool water.
  • Fold back and trim off the green leaves.
  • Slice to an appropriate thickness. (It shrinks quite a bit)
  • Sprinkle the cut surfaces liberally with salt. Place the slices in a colander. Let them hang out on the counter or sink for 30-60 minutes.
  • Rinse off the eggplant and let dry, or pat dry.

Letting the salt sit on the surface does three things: extracts excess water, kills the bitterness, and breaks down the fiber. You’ll find that your eggplant is much tastier when the above steps are taken.

As mentioned above, eggplant is enjoyed around the world and comes in a variety of shapes as well as colors. The most popular varieties that you see at the grocery store are the large, tear-drop shaped variety. Most stores will also carry the skinnier chinese variety. I’ve personally found little difference between the two other than shape.
Favorite Dishes that feature eggplant:

  • Eggplant Parmesean
  • Ratatouille
  • Mousakka
  • Imam Biyaldi
  • Szechuan Eggplant
  • Babaganoush

My favorite way to cook it is very, very simple. Slice it thin to very thin. Treat with salt as per above. Grill or sear, using very garlicky butter in the process. I’ve also had good results dehyrating it to be like a veggie chip.

Though eggplant is versatile, it is also good for you. No surprise considering it’s a purple fruit, right? While it isn’t really a powerhouse of any one particular mineral or phytonutrient, it has respectable amounts of many nutrients, like vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese, and potassium. It is a great source of fiber, bringing several grams per fruit.

Grilled Eggplant, from episode #11: Shrimp Primavera

Hot Kitchen episodes that feature eggplant:

  • #11 Shrimp Primavera
  • Although I love eggplant, it is something I don’t make very often, mostly because it is a little time consuming with the salting process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

http://www.livestrong.com/article/413711-eggplant-nutrition-specifications/

http://merlinandrebecca.blogspot.com/2012/02/gypsy-kitchens-imam-biyaldi.html

http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2443/2

http://www.abundantlifeseeds.com/

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