Eggplant, the berry that eats like a vegetable. That’s right… eggplant is actually classified as a fruit because it has small edible seeds. Although native to Asia, eggplant is widely used in many parts of the world, including Greece, France and Morocco. It is available year-round and contrary to what you might think, it’s easy to prepare and can be included in many types of dishes. It provides fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals to help keep you healthy and prevent disease. Cooking with eggplant is just one more way to fill half your plate with fruits and veggies. Read on to learn more and get recipes to try this week.
Are there different kinds of eggplant?
Yes. They come in a variety of colours and sizes. The pear-shaped eggplant is a common type you see at most grocery stores. Another common variety is the long and slender, Japanese eggplant - often found in ethnic grocery stores. You might also see smaller ones shaped like eggs or grapes and bunched together.
Eggplants have smooth and edible shiny skins that may be lavender, cream, white, green or orange coloured. The flesh is a light yellow colour with a spongy texture and small brown edible seeds. The spongy-like flesh soaks up cooking oil easily. When it comes to eggplant nutrition, all types are equally nutritious and good for you.
What do I look for when I buy eggplant?
Pick eggplant that feels firm and has smooth, shiny and even coloured skin. Choose the heavier eggplants and avoid ones that are wrinkled, which is a sign they are old.
How do I prepare eggplant?
The amount of preparation depends on the type of eggplant you choose. The common pear-shaped type has a thicker skin and may need to be peeled. You will likely also have to chop it and lightly sprinkle it with salt, a process called sweating. Place salted eggplant in a colander for 30 minutes. Then rinse and pat dry with paper towel. The sweating process helps remove the bitterness and reduces the amount of oil needed for cooking. The Japanese eggplant and the smaller varieties are not as bitter, so their skin doesn’t need to be peeled and the extra salt preparation is not necessary. Sliced eggplant can turn brown quickly, so cook it soon or sprinkle lemon juice on it to keep the colour.
What can I make with eggplant?
Eggplant is versatile; it can be roasted, stir-fried, added in a casserole or curry, made into a spread or used in a salad. It has a savoury and meaty texture.
Give these delicious eggplant recipes a try:
- Make baba ganoush, a Middle Eastern eggplant dip
- Add it to your Asian stir-fries or roast it with zucchini, bell peppers and red onions
- Include it in this Italian roasted vegetables pasta or eggplant lasagna
- Make this popular Punjabi vegetarian eggplant dish, Baingan ka Bharta
- Serve this eggplant bruschetta or grilled eggplant (vegetable) salad as an appetizer at your next party
- Try this Greek casserole, roasted eggplant moussaka, for your family this weekend
- Spice up dinner with these Moroccan recipes: eggplant with tomatoes or vegetable curry
How do you enjoy eggplant?
Photo credit: Jack Letourneau, photo title: Eggplant
What makes vegetables and fruit so special?