Ingredient of the Week: Eggplant

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What is it?

Dubbed "aubergine" by the French, the eggplant is part of the nightshades family and is a fruit related to the tomato and bell pepper. Native to India, it has since spread to many other world cuisines, including Chinese, Mediterranean, African, Italian and French.

There are different types of eggplant, but the one most commonly found in American grocery stores are dark purple in color, elongated egg-like in shape, and usually run about eight by three inches in size. Supposedly, eggplant is a good source of antioxidants and fiber, but it also has more nicotine than any other edible plant. Even these amounts, however, are minimal--it would take 20 pounds of eggplant to equal the nicotine of one cigarette (so don't bother).

How do I use it?

Eggplants are often stewed as in the ratatouille from France, breaded and baked like the Italian parmigiana, roasted and blended with other ingredients to make the Middle Eastern baba ghanoush, or stuffed, steamed or stir-fried, like in many Chinese dishes.

The eggplant is tender and fleshy when cooked, absorbs liquids well, and makes for a good meat substitute. It doesn't need to be skinned or seeded; just wash and slice, discarding the ends. Be careful with its spongy absorbency, though; it can quickly turn to a grease monster if over-fried. If you want to avoid the greasiness, apply salt to the eggplant slices and let sit for 30 minutes. This will make it "sweat," and it will absorb less oils later in the cooking process.

Called the king of vegetables in India, the eggplant is very versatile and allows for creativity and experimentation.

Where can I find it?

If you don't already have them growing in your vegetable garden, you can also find them in the produce section of virtually any grocery store. The eggplant season is from July to October, so you have a few more weeks to try your hand at the purple fruit.

Recipe: Lamb and Eggplant Moussaka
From Epicurious, this is a Mediterranean and Middle Eastern casserole using eggplant. Don't know how to pronounce it? Read this EOW post to learn how to say "moussaka," along with other dishes, properly.

What do you do with your eggplant?



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7 comments
Scott Bodenheimer
Scott Bodenheimer

Cut it into cubes, toss with some salt and pepper, some Italian herbs, and a generous drizzle of olive oil, and then roast in in the oven at 400° for 20-30 minutes, turning once. Cubes should have some charred edges.   Really good just like this, or you can use the eggplant warm over salad greens with a drizzle of lemon or wine vinegar.

Ginny Braud
Ginny Braud

i loooveee fried eggplant! I usually go overboard and make myself sick- it's so rich. Still...loooove it.  

trisch
trisch

I love eggplant! Roasted and made into a dip, stir-fried super spicy with pork, stuffed with lamb and baked, tempura fried, and my all-time favorite: thinly sliced and roasted and then combined with shredded mozzarella, a little olive oil, and toasted garlic and red chile flakes on pizza crust.

Frances Parker
Frances Parker

Bought an eggplant from Atkinson Farms at the Urban Harvest City Hall farmer's market last week.  It was perfect for an eggplant parmesan recipe.

Christina Uticone
Christina Uticone

Beautiful striped eggplant at HEB right now. Made pasta last night w/ eggplant, red pepper, tomato ragu (garlic, shallot, Italian herbs, a little chicken stock).

Christina Uticone
Christina Uticone

They really have the most spectacular produce. I love their kale, and their strawberries.

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