In Season: Eggplant

by in In Season, August 25, 2009

There aren’t many vegetables I don’t love, and it would be tough to narrow my favorites down to a top 10 list. If I had to, though, eggplants would definitely make the list. Friends often ask, “Are there ways to prepare them other than fried eggplant?” Yes, of course!

What, Where & When?
Eggplants are members of the nightshade family along with tomatoes and potatoes. Most folks recognize the classic teardrop shape and dark purple skin, but eggplants can also be round, long, fat and skinny and have white, black, white with purple stripes and pale lavender skin. The inner flesh is off-white and spongy with tiny edible seeds. Their season runs from July through October, and while they’re commonly grown throughout the world, most of the ones in the U.S. comes from Florida and New Jersey.

Nutrition Facts
Eggplants seem to be one of those love-‘em-or-hate-‘em veggies. They’ve certainly sparked all kinds of food folk lore through the years. Claims going back hundreds of years link them to insanity and leprosy and even call them an aphrodisiac. Myths aside, they’re a good-for-you, low-cal veggie. One cup of cooked eggplant has 2 grams of hunger-curbing fiber and only 35 calories. It also contains some iron, potassium, vitamin K and chlorogenic acid, a cancer-fighting antioxidant.

What To Do With Eggplant
An eggplant’s inner flesh is pretty mild, with a hint of bitterness. The skin is also edible, but can be a bit tough and very bitter. To remove some of the bitterness, you can salt cut pieces or slices and let them sit for 20 to 30 minutes (be sure to rinse well before cooking). In my experience, some eggplants are much more bitter than others; every once and while I come across a really bitter one (not my favorite). This may be a sign that they’re old.

You can bake, boil, roast, pickle or fry eggplant pieces. Their meaty texture works great in pasta dishes, casseroles and stuffed peppers. I often add diced cubes to stir-fry and grill thick slices with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for sandwiches. In my version of eggplant parm, I bread and bake the eggplant and instead of frying — this slashes the calories and fat by almost half! I also roast diced eggplant along with chunks of onion, pepper and garlic, throw it all in a food processor and puree for a sweet and savory eggplant spread, which you can use on sandwiches, wraps and dipping veggies and pita chips.

Shopping Tip: Choose eggplants with shiny and smooth skin. Pass on ones with wrinkles or brown spots. Once cut, the flesh begins to turn brown quickly so peel or cut the eggplant just before using. Eggplants don’t like super cold environments; store them in a cool, dry place on the counter for a day or two. They will keep a bit longer in the front of the refrigerator in a plastic bag.

TELL US: What’s the best way to cook up eggplant?

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Comments (40)

  1. blond red head says:

    Try drying sliced eggplant (about 1/4 inch or a little more) in a dehydrator. You can season the slices to taste. Then freeze the slices and you can use the slices in sauces and other dishes in the winter. When dried they taste alot like mushrooms. We like them on homemade pizza too, just hydrate them a little first.

  2. susie says:

    Eggplant Parmesan. Try as hard as he can my 'nothing but meat & potatoes' husband can't order anything else at our favorite Italian restaurant.

  3. Marilyn says:

    Does anyone have a recipe for eggplant footballs? I think it is steamed eggplant, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese and basil that are pan fired in football form but I am not sure.

  4. Eggie says:

    I actually made Lasagne with eggplant and soy . Got rave reviews!

    I have found that freezing can also cut out some of the bitterness.

  5. joodles says:

    here's a bunch and they sound good

  6. Brooks says:

    I wrote a similar article on this subject but you nailed it here.

  7. Has anyone tried the fariy egplant, they are small and streaked light purple. This is my fav and the only place I have found it is the farmers market, but worth the trip. It has a thinner skin, less bitterness and I was even able to win my mother (who hates any type of squash) over just by sauteing it with garlic, olive oil and salt and pepper.

  8. Jackie Carroll says:

    If you soak it in salt water right away it will not turn brown. Works for me everytime.

  9. Christine says:

    I'm with you aabout disliking any kind of peppers! I usually just leave them out of any recipe that has them in, but sometimes feel like I need something else to replace the lost flavor. Altho to me the pepper flavor is NOT a loss – I even dislike their smell.

  10. Barney Laschever says:

    Hi Sandy:The arch typical Greek eggplant recipe is Moussaka (also claimed by the Greeks). Try it, you'll love it/ Then of course there is ratatouille which will help youuse up your zucchine, tomatoes, garlic and throw in an onion or two, why not. Every nationality has an eggplant dish including the Japanese. (Probably pickled.) They also make nice fritters: peel, chop up the inwards, boiled for a short while, drain, add breadcrumbs, make pancake style eggplant fritters and either deep fry or fry in shallow oil in a big frying pan. Probably can add onions, but then I use onions for everything except oatmeal. Buon appetito!

  11. Send a letter to Bon Appetit Magazine with the restraunt name and the dish, they post these in every issue of their magazine and you may be able to get the exact recipe from the restraunt.

  12. leelee41 says:

    That sounds great. And I happen to have an spaghetti squash and eggplant. I think I'll try it tonight.

  13. Licia says:

    try the japanese eggplant, they are smaller, skinnier and very tasty. the skin is much thinner and a lighter color purple. I personally find them not bitter at all.

  14. Me-Me says:

    If you're having the eggplant for dinner, slice, salt , put in a covered bowl and let it set in the fridge until time to cook. That will take away the bitterness.

  15. Me-Me says:

    Yummy….that sounds so good. I will cook it tomorrow. Thanks.

  16. ddetert says:

    I lived in Iran for a short time long ago (!) before the Shah was overthrown, and the Iranians have delicious recipies for eggplant. I would like to contact someone from the Middle East who has these recipies, if possible.

  17. ddetert says:

    I want to talk to you! I lived in Iran for a short time years ago, and I would like Iranian recipies for eggplant/ – Iranian cuisine is one of the best in the world!

  18. tray says:

    wanted to know… 1-2 cans tomato PASTE? seems like a bit much? Is this right? thanks!

  19. Marcy Youker says:

    not really, slice the eggplant, sprikle it with salt and let it sit for 30 minutes, drain, and procede as plan, it work , I love eggplant, have used from a baby to and old eggplant, great.

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