Eggplant

You may well wonder why a purple vegetable is called "egg" plant. The first cultivated European eggplants were white. Purple has since become prevalent, although white varieties are making a comeback. White eggplants are milder and meatier than the purple kind, holding up better to all kinds of cooking.

WHEN TO BUY
July through mid-October

NUTRITION FACTS
Serving: 1 cup, sliced
Calories: 25
Fiber: 3 grams
Fat: .5 gram
Protein: 1 gram
A good source of: Eggplant is not very vitamin- or mineral-rich, but it does have a good quantity of vitamin K.

HOW TO GET KIDS TO TRY IT
Introduce children to eggplant pureed in baba ganoush spread on wedges of pita bread. Also, make pizza roll-ups: place wafer-thin slices of baked eggplant (see
directions for baking) on a flour tortilla or large pita round. Cover with thin slices of mozzarella cheese and top with tomato sauce. Place under the broiler until bubbly, then roll up to enclose the filling. Serve as is, or slice into thin spirals.

HOW TO CHOOSE
An eggplant is good if:

  • It's firm and smooth.
  • Its skin is glossy, deep purple.
  • It's slender and nicely tapered or, if the bulbous variety, well-rounded. Fresh small and medium eggplants tend to have fewer seeds; fewer seeds means sweeter pulp. If you cut open the eggplant and find it fully riddled with seeds, it will be too bitter to eat. Buy fresh and eat promptly.

 

HOW TO STORE

  1. Place in a perforated plastic bag.
  2. Refrigerate in the crisper compartment for up to five days.

You can keep eggplant pulp or baked eggplant slices, wrapped in plastic and refrigerated, for up to two days.

HOW TO PREPARE
For dishes calling for chopped or pureed cooked eggplant:

  1. Heat the broiler. Trim off the root end of the eggplant and place on the broiler tray.
  2. Broil until the skin buckles, then turn and broil the other side, about 7 minutes on each side.
  3. Remove from the heat. When cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and use the pulp as directed in the recipe.

For dishes calling for eggplant slices or pieces:

  1. Cut off the root end and slice the eggplant 1/2 inch thick.
  2. If there are lots of seeds, sprinkle it with sea salt and place in colander lined with paper towels for 30 minutes.
  3. Rinse off the salt and immediately blot the pieces dry with paper towels.

A note about salting: Salting is useful for limiting the bitterness of some eggplants, but absolutely fresh eggplants should not be bitter and thus don't need salting. Salting can also impede the amount of oil that penetrates the eggplant when frying. To get this effect you must let it absorb the salt for at least an hour. Finally, remember that the salt will affect the flavor, so keep your slices thicker than half an inch and season the rest of the dish accordingly.

Baking Sliced Eggplant:

  1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Place the slices on a non-stick baking sheet.
  3. Bake until tender, about 20 minutes. Loosen with a spatula, turn and bake until the other side is tender, too, about 7 minutes.
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