Prepared improperly, this vegetable can become a greasy mess, or turn a sauce soupy. But, a few tips will help you to instead make fabulous dishes: here’s how to use eggplant.
Locally-grown eggplant is usually available in August and September in Wisconsin.
This nightshade is a brilliant source of dietary fiber, and a whole bunch of minerals—potassium, manganese, and copper.
How to Select:
Look for firm, glossy skin with un-wilted leaves. An eggplant should be heavy for its size; however, overly large eggplants are more seedy and bitter than smaller ones.
How to Store:
Eggplant can be stored on the countertop out of direct sunlight, and should be used within a few days of purchase.
How to Prepare:
To keep an eggplant from soaking up excess oil or producing too much moisture during cooking, cut and sprinkle it with salt, then allow it to sit and “sweat” for half an hour before rinsing and using. Eggplant works well broiled, roasted, stewed, pan-fried, or deep-fried. When they are roasted, they make a surprisingly creamy addition to pasta sauces or dips like baba ganouj. Slices of eggplant can be brushed with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper before being grilled alongside your favorite main dish—or combined with other grilled vegetables as a vegetarian main dish. Consider combining eggplant with cheese, particularly salty feta and parmesan; or combining with other salty foods like anchovies, capers, and olives.
Recipe: Baba Ganouj
1 hour 15 minutes; 15 minutes active
Serve this popular dip with pita bread, olives and veggies or alongside dishes like tabouli, fattoush and falafel.
- 1 large eggplant (about 1 1/2 pounds)
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
- 3 tablespoons tahini
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Pinch of cayenne (optional)
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Prick the eggplant in several places with a knife or fork. Place on a baking sheet and roast the eggplant in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour, turning it occasionally. Remove from oven when the eggplant soft and collapsing and the outside is blackened. Place the eggplant in a bowl and set aside until it is cool enough to handle.
While the eggplant is cooling, mix all of the remaining ingredients in a large bowl.
When eggplant is cool, remove and discard the blackened skin and any excess liquid that has accumulated in the bowl. Mash the flesh with a fork (or finely dice with a knife, add to the remaining ingredients and blend well). Serve with warm pita bread.
Serve this popular dip with pita bread, olives and veggies on Mediterranean mezze (appetizer) platter, or alongside other Middle Eastern dishes like tabouli, fattoush and falafel.
144 calories, 10 g. fat, 0 mg. cholesterol, 315 mg. sodium, 13 g. carbohydrate, 7 g. fiber, 4 g. protein
If you don’t have a Sicilian grandma to pass eggplant recipes down to you, you can find a recipe for Roasted Eggplant and Pepper Spread, similar to Sicilian caponata, in The Italian Vegetable Cookbook by Michele Scicolone. The book is available through the Hudson Public Library system.
What about you?
Does your family have recipes that use this beautifully-colored vegetable? Share your favorites!
Want to see more local, fresh produce in your fridge? Consider becoming an owner of the Hudson Grocery Cooperative—which will be a locally-owned, full-service grocery store that offers diverse food and product choices including organic, sustainable and regionally sourced options for our community.
Image and recipe credit: Welcome to the Table