Eggplant, Aubergine or Guinea Squash is a FRUIT, not a vegetable, and is a member of the Nightshade Family. Once thought to be extremely dangerous to eat, and native to India, eggplant are commonly cultivated all over the world. The eggplant comes in a variety of sizes and colors. The name eggplant is used in the United States, rather than the more common aubergine, is probably due to some varieties of eggplants that are small, goose-egged shape and pale yellow or white.
Raw eggplant can have a bitter taste, but when cooked becomes complex with a mildly smoky flavor. The process of degorging is essential to produce a crispy and not greasy final result.
Degorging is done by salting sliced eggplant and allowing the water to be purged out of the fruit. The degorging collapses the cells that hold the water and prevents the eggplant from absorbing oil during the cooking process. Degorging is not done to remove bitter juices.
Eggplants are effective in treating high blood pressure and are thought to be a good source of potassium and folic acid.
From Ratatouille to Babaghanoush, eggplants are versatile and are a staple in many cuisines around the world. Summer is the best time of the year for eggplant, so scoop them up while you can and experiment with one of the most versatile fruits in global cuisine.
Start with this Eggplant Parmesan-Roman Style. This is not your mother’s eggplant parmesan. This Roman style, modernized version of the classic dish will reinvigorate your table. My dispute with the eggplant parmesan I have seen from many home cooks is that you spend all this time breading eggplant, crisping it up and then drowning it in sauce and covering it with cheese. What happened to the crispy part? What happened to the eggplant for that matter? It was buried under layers of stuff.
My version is more eggplant salad than gooey, mushy eggplant dish. I crisp my slices of eggplant with crunchy panko breadcrumbs, then sandwich confit tomatoes, cheese (optional for pareve) and fresh basil leaves between the eggplant slices and top the eggplant with more tomatoes and basil.
Tomatoes are my favorite summertime market vegetables find and pair perfectly with eggplant. I wait all year long for tomatoes and cannot seem to get enough of this sweet, juicy fruit. When I cannot think of ways to serve the tomatoes and we are “saladed” out-I poach these beauties in olive oil. By poaching the tomatoes, I extend their shelf life for weeks. Store the tomatoes in the olive oil in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Use the fragrant and tasty olive oil for sautéing or making vinaigrettes.
And here is one more eggplant recipe for you I just have to share. For this Curried Eggplant I prefer to use Japanese eggplant. The intense color, slim profile and deep smoky essence make it an excellent choice when looking for big flavor.