Cooking with Bold and Beautiful Eggplant

Also known as: Aubergine, Guinea squash

Likes: Hot and steamy climates, plenty of personal space

Dislikes: “Don’t blame me if you don’t know how to cook me!”

Hobbies: Hobnobbing with her cousins, Tomato and Potato; proving naysayers wrong

Find her: Pureed in dips and spreads, roasted, stir-fried, battered and fried (when she’s feeling a little more decadent or wants to throw her weight around)

“That’s right, I may seem a little bitter or heavy, but only if you aren’t familiar with the best ways to choose or cook up a delicate Eggplant like me!”  She’s heard it all, this curvy and grand goddess of the garden, and Eggplant is confident that with a little work and practice, you and so many other naysayers out there will learn to love and adore her. 

She was first cultivated thousands of years back in India, where she is still grown and used extensively in traditional dishes.  Over the centuries, she’s gradually made her way through the Mediterranean, Asia, and Europe, to find a place in such well-known and popular dishes as the Italian eggplant parmesan, the French ratatouille, and the Mediterranean moussaka.

You may have heard that she naturally has a touch of nicotine, but she knows that if you’re already addicted to her, it’s just because of her flavor, versatility, and nutrition—not a pesky little family trait.  Eggplant isn’t just bold and beautiful; she boasts plenty of fiber and antioxidants and is a good way to get some of those recommended fruits and veggies without chomping down on yet another salad.  She knows you’re ready to change up your plate, and with a food like her—available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, she can keep your meals interesting.

So if you’re ready for the challenge that is Eggplant, she is ready to beef up your diet and health.  Here are a few tips and ideas to embrace her:

  • Find her at her best – At the market, look for deep and vibrant colors, smooth skin, and a green cap and stem. 
  • Opt for younger – As she gets older, Eggplant’s natural bitterness, believed to be from antioxidant phenolic compounds, can get a little more pronounced—requiring a bit of salt sweating.  Especially if you’re just getting to know Eggplant, opt for younger fruit to create your delicious dishes.  Younger eggplants are on the small to medium size.  You can also gauge her youth by pressing your thumb on Eggplant’s skin.  If you leave an indent, she’s no longer in her youth.
  • Bring out her flavor – Roasting is an easy first step to help cut any bitterness and bring out flavor.  With a little olive oil, a little seasoning, and plenty of heat, she’ll happily create a variety of dishes.
  • Skip the frying – Eggplant is found fried in many dishes, and she is notorious for sucking up every little bit of oil she can.  Fried Eggplant can equal a heavy dish and a heavy you.
  • Don’t get stuck in a rut – Sure, she’s great in those tried and true recipes, but did you know that she’s also a natural on the grill, in a spicy stir-fry, and more?  Look for new Eggplant recipes to try and see what restaurants are serving to get new ideas for this bigger-than-life gal in your kitchen.