Friday, August 1, 2014

Eggplant 101

The eggplant (also known as "aubergine" in British English) is a species of nightshade originally domesticated in India. It is a fruit that is closely related to both the tomato and potato. Eggplants come in a wide variety of colors, including purple, white, yellow, green, black, and even orange. Common varieties include the Classic which is widely grown in the United States and is identified by its smooth skin, deep purple color and elongated oval shape. Another is the Chinese which has the same smooth purple skin but a long cylindrical shape . Eggplant generally has a bitter taste when raw, but develops a rich, complex flavor when cooked. To learn more about eggplant click here

To Store

Eggplant is very perishable and will not keep long. Depending on how fresh the eggplant is at time of purchase, it may be refrigerated for up to 4 days (up to 7 days if you pick right from the garden). It is best to use them as soon as possible, preferably within a day. Do not store raw eggplant at temperatures less than 50 degrees F (10 degrees C). Eggplant is easily damaged by severe cold, storing it towards the door of the refrigerator seems to work well. To learn more about storage and freezing click here

To Nourish

Eggplant is a very good source of dietary fiber, manganese, potassium, copper, and thiamin. It is also rich in phytonutrients which have antioxidant activity that are known to protect brain cell membranes and also promote cardiovascular health. To learn more about the health benefits of Eggplant click here

To Prepare

Eggplants should be washed before cooking. Trim off the stem and cap. Eggplant can be cooked with or without its skin. Methods of cooking include baking, boiling, grilling, frying, sautéing and steaming. Some cooks like to salt eggplant before cooking to extract bitterness and draw out some of the vegetable's moisture. To do this, slice the eggplant and generously season with salt. Let the slices sit for about 20-30 minutes and then rinse and pat dry. In general, only the larger eggplants might need salting, since they can sometimes be more bitter than the smaller varieties.
To Try 

To Use

Le Creuset Heritage Stoneware Oval Gratin flat, shallow shape bakes vegetable gratins, egg dishes and desserts to perfection and showcases them with style.  It is an extremely durable and versatile choice for one-dish baking, serving and storing. Safe for oven, broiler, freezer and microwave. Available in eight colors/5”, 8”, 9.5”, 11” & 14”.  ($13-60, Williams-Sonoma)