In Season: Eggplant

by in In Season, July 25, 2011
grilled eggplant Food Network Magazine’s Hoisin Eggplant.

Grilled eggplant is a summer favorite, but there are plenty of other ways to enjoy this scrumptious delight. Check out these fun eggplant facts (did you know it’s a fruit?) and healthy, delicious recipes.

When, Where, & What?
Eggplants (Solanum melongena, Solanaceae) are part of the nightshade family along with peppers, potatoes and tomatoes. They were originally named after eggplants found in Europe that resembled an egg in shape and color. Eggplants only became acceptable to eat in the U.S. about 50 years ago; prior to that, folks believed that eating it caused insanity, leprosy and cancer.

Eggplants grow on vines, similar to tomatoes, and can be found in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors. They can be white, purple, black or green and vary in length. Their shape can be spherical, curved, or long and narrow. The most common eggplants have a deep purple skin with a teardrop shape and are about 8 to 10 inches long.

Eggplants have a spongy flesh, meaty texture, and slightly bitter taste (the skin is especially bitter). Female eggplants contain more seeds and are more bitter, while male eggplants contain less seeds and have a slightly sweeter flavor. To determine the sex of an eggplant, check  the bottom: a female will have a deep indentation shaped like a dash while a male eggplant will have a shallow, round indentation.

The largest producers of eggplants in the U.S. include Florida, New Jersey and California. They’re also grown in Mexico, China, Italy, Turkey, Egypt and Japan. Popular varieties include Black Beauty, Rosa Bianca, Classic, Orient Express, Black Italian, Japanese, Lavender and Cloud 9. Eggplants are in peak season from July through October.

Nutrition Facts
One cup of cubed eggplant contains 20 calories, 3 grams of fiber, and 5 percent of your daily doses of both potassium and folate. It’s rich in flavonoids like chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid which may help fight cancer and protect cells from damage.

What To Do With Eggplant
Eggplant can be roasted, grilled, sautéed, steamed, baked and pureed. One of my family favorites is a mashed eggplant salad called babaganoush. We serve it as a pre-dinner appetizer along with hummus, tahini, tzatziki (yogurt sauce) with pita on the side for dipping.

Eggplant-based dishes are an excellent way to celebrate Meatless Monday. Use for eggplant parmesan (bread and bake instead of frying) or layer grilled slices of eggplant with tomato and a touch of hummus on some whole grain bread for a scrumptious vegetable sandwich. Toss chunks of sautéed eggplant, tomato and fresh basil with pasta, use roasted eggplant as a pizza topping, or add pickled eggplant to an antipasto platter.

Eggplant cooking tips:

  • 1 pound eggplant = 3 ½ cups chopped = 1 ¾ cups cooked
  • The peel of the eggplant can be eaten or peeled off using a potato peeler.
  • To tenderize eggplant and decrease the bitterness, sprinkle with salt, let stand for 30 minutes, and then rinse off salt.

Shopping Tip: Choose eggplants that are shiny, firm, and heavy for their size. The stems should be green.  The flesh should spring back to the touch. Avoid those with wrinkled skin, dull in color or has brown or soft spots. Store fresh eggplant in a cool, dry place for up to 2 days. For longer storage, store in a plastic bag in the front (warmer) section of the refrigerator. Cut it just before using.

Eggplant recipes to try:

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby’s full bio »

You Might Also Like:

Similar Posts

Three Cheers For the Healthiest Berry Desserts

Independence Day may be over, but the summer berry season is just hitting its stride. If your kitchen is bursting with all kinds of juicy gems, here’s a collection of red and blue berry desserts fit for any summer celebration. Raspberries Super-high in fiber (one cup provides more than 30 percent of the daily recommendedRead more

Comments (10)

  1. jp27 says:

    I love to cut them into rounds, bread them and bake them!

  2. kristin says:

    I try to like eggplant, but I just don't like the texture.

  3. valerie kramer says:

    i like to make grilled eggplant parm — grilled sliced eggplant, grilled till soft and charred, rolled with a little bit of part-skim ricotta cheese and topped with homemade tomatoe sauce and a sprinkle of parm or mozzarella cheese. so good in the summer!

  4. Betsie says:

    Eggplant is fairly new to me, but I'm obsessed with it this year after growing some in my garden. I have a terrific recipe for a roasted eggplant and tomato pasta (and you won't even know that the eggplant is there!): http://cookingripe.wordpress.com/2012/09/21/roast

  5. [...] We all love good old eggplant parm, but this nightshade veggie is much more versatile. Here are five sensational summer [...]

  6. and requirements of their clients. they also…

    cater to the needs of clients looking for ways to monetize their blogs, by bringing fortune and fame to their websites. therefore, it is important to select the blog hosting service that will bring success to your blogging site.the coding experts…

  7. The Birch of the Shadow…

    I think there may be considered a couple of duplicates, but an exceedingly helpful list! I’ve tweeted this. Many thanks for sharing!…

  8. [...] to start. Summer squash, broccoli and melon are also fairly low-maintenance. Chili peppers and eggplant are also a couple of my personal faves; they grow well in the ground or in large pots placed on the [...]

  9. [...] to start. Summer squash, broccoli and melon are also fairly low-maintenance. Chili peppers and eggplant are also a couple of my personal faves; they grow well in the ground or in large pots placed on the [...]

  10. fbr6254mh says:

    I attempted emailing but I am not certain if it was sent, so I’ve left a comment just to say that I’ve given you a spot on the featured resource list on our internet site. Whilst a link back to our website could be great, it is not required as we think the content on your own web site is going to be beneficial to our readers any way. The link is on the front of our web site here Coral Geeks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>