When taking a bite of delicious Eggplant Parmesan
or mouth-watering Ratatouille
you probably don’t realize that you are actually having fruit for dinner.
We associate fruit with sweetness but the eggplant does not offer that. Instead, with its spongy texture and unique, slightly bitter, taste the aubergine is an ideal food for main dishes and not dessert.
This purple fruit is for the most part very nutritious packing in fiber, antioxidants, B vitamins, protein and potassium, however, if you are watching your sodium intake, be aware that eggplants are high in sodium.
How to Select Eggplant
Eggplant thrives in the heat, and is at its best from July through October. It comes in many shapes and colors, but always make sure the skin in taut and shiny. It should feel firm, with no soft or mushy spots. Smaller eggplants are preferred when choosing the globe eggplant, since the larger ones can be more bitter and full of seeds.
How to Store Eggplant
Have you ever made the mistake of storing a fresh from your local farmer's market eggplant in your refrigerator overnight? You were probably unpleasantly surprised to find that the flesh of your gorgeous purple eggplant has browned and spoiled when you went to use it. The reason for this is an eggplants ideal temperature is around 50° F. If stored at temperatures lower or higher than this the eggplant deteriorates quickly. Since the average temperature of a refrigerator is 35° - 38° F, they aren’t a good location for storing eggplants.
Eggplants are best if used within three days of purchase and stored in a cool, dry and well-ventilated place, like a garage.CHEFS Eggplant Storage Tip:
To help absorb moisture and prevent the spoilage of your eggplants for a couple extra days, put them in paper bags or wrap in paper towels and store in unsealed plastic bags.
How to Prepare Eggplant
Eggplants are notorious for their preparation needs.
- Start by cutting the green cap off the top of the fruit.
- Based on your preference and recipe, you have the choice to peel off the skin or keep the skin on.
- Cut the eggplant into whatever shape your recipe calls for (slices, cubes, etc.).
- Sprinkle on a fair amount of salt, and then place it in a colander for at least 30 minutes, and up to an hour.
- Try weighing down the eggplant so excess liquid can drain more quickly, or squeeze gently when time is up.
- Rinse with cool water and pat dry, or press between paper towels.
Now your eggplant is ready to be cooked. When cooking eggplant, it is infamous for absorbing a lot of oil, and don’t cook it in an aluminum pan or it will discolor.
How to Eat Eggplant
Eggplant is delicious fried, roasted, baked, sautéed, broiled, or grilled. There are many famous Mediterranean eggplant dishes, like parmigiana, ratatouille, caponata, moussaka, and baba ghannouj.
Eggplant's meaty texture compared to other fruits and vegetables, making it a delicious, nutritious & inexpensive meat substitute that can be used in a variety of dishes, including stir-fries, pastas and calzones. It pairs well with cheese and sauces (perfect in casseroles), and is a tasty addition diced up into pasta dishes, or stuffed. It’s also a natural pairing with lamb and tomatoes.
Whether it’s baked, grilled, roasted or sautéed you will undoubtedly enjoy a wonderful dining experience.