August 2020 Simple Eggplant Recipes and Cooking Tips
By Nancy Ghanem
Cooking eggplant can be a little intimidating. But when prepared properly, eggplant is a nutrient-dense and versatile vegetable that works well as an entrée, side dish, feature ingredient or dip. If you’ve been skeptical about cooking eggplant because its seems too spongy or soggy, check out these simple tips and tricks for getting that ideal taste and texture.
Is eggplant a fruit or vegetable?
Although it is prepared as a culinary vegetable, eggplant (also known as aubergine) is botanically classified as a fruit. It is also considered a berry because of its numerous small, edible seeds. The small ornamental varieties European settlers introduced to the United States resembled goose and hen eggs, thus inspired the name “eggplant”.
Eggplant around the world
Eggplant is native to India and Southeast Asia and usually grown in areas with a mild climate. It is very popular in France, Egypt, Italy and frequently used across the Middle East and Asia.
Why is eggplant healthy?
- Eggplants are nutritionally abundant in many vitamins and minerals, including folate and vitamin B6.
- They are rich in anthocyanin, which is the compound responsible for eggplant’s rich purple color. Anthocyanins are antioxidants that have many health-promoting qualities.
- Eggplants also contain nasunin, an antioxidant that can help protect the brain from free radical damage.
- Like other fruits and vegetables, eggplants contain fiber, which is helpful for feeling full, balancing out blood sugar and digestive regularity.
Shop for the Perfect Eggplant
- Smaller eggplant tend to be less bitter than bigger ones. Choose the fruit with a firm, smooth skin that feels heavy for its size.
- Avoid fruit with soft or brown spots.
- Gently press against the middle of the eggplant with your thumb, if it bounces back, it is ripe! If it remains indented, it is likely overripe and mushy.
Quick and Easy Eggplant Recipe Ideas
The quickest way to enjoy eggplant is to simply slice it and throw it on the grill. Eggplant can be diced, sauteed and used in pasta dishes, ratatouille, stir fry, hummus, curry or casseroles. It can also be an entrée course as stuffed eggplant or eggplant Parmesan. Get crafty with eggplant fries, shakshuka, and tartines. Check out these classic KRNC eggplant recipes:
- Baba Ganoush (our August Recipe of the Month!)
- Herb Grilled Eggplant
- Eggplant Bruschetta
Eggplant Cooking Tips
- Raw eggplant is bitter and tastes better when it is cooked.
- All eggplants have spongy flesh with many air pockets that collapse when cooked, creating a creamy texture.
- Long, thin Chinese or Japanese varieties are mild and hold their form better when cooked.
- Eggplant skin is edible, but can be peeled or stripped based on personal preference.
- Eggplants are known to absorb a lot of fat while cooking. A useful tip to prevent sogginess and greasiness is to salt sliced or diced eggplant and let it sit for an hour. This helps to draw out moisture. Next, rinse and drain any liquid from the sliced eggplant, then pat dry before cooking. This will further soften the eggplant preventing it from soaking up fat while cooking.
- If you cook eggplant in a pan, make sure its in an even layer with some space between the pieces so that the eggplant doesn’t steam.
Get to know our author:
Ghanem is a senior majoring in Food Science and Human Nutrition. She is specifically interested in studying and exploring the relationship between nutrition and chronic disease. Ghanem is also planning to work with under-served populations and providing interventions that prevent and manage chronic diseases in order to improve the quality of life for these individuals. Some fun facts about Ghanem are that she is from Cairo, Egypt and plays tennis for CSU.
For additional resources to healthy eating, check out these programs from our registered dietitian nutritionists. Find delicious and healthy recipes on our Recipes page! More health tips are also available at the College of Health and Human Sciences Pinterest board. Lastly, don’t forget to sign up for the KRNC monthly newsletter!