Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Eggplant, Have You Ever Tried It?

Eggplant, that purple oblong thing we've all seen in the produce section of the super market. What is it and what do you do with it?

First, know that it is good for you. Second, it is not that hard to work with when cooking. Eggplant is part of the nightshade family of vegetables. That family includes tomatoes, sweet peppers and potatoes to name a few. In grows similar to tomato plants and comes in many varieties. The most common in the United States is the purple pear shaped variety.

Eggplant is considered to have a pleasantly bitter taste with a spongy texture. It can be used in recipes in a variety of ways usually as a complementary ingredient to the main one. Nutritionally it is high in fiber and considered a good brain food.

In picking out the best one to buy, look for good bright shiny color and smooth skin. You want one that does not have bruises, cuts or scars. Similar to buying watermelon, look for one that is heavy for its size. To pick a ripe one press a finger or thumb against the skin and let up. If the skin bounces back it is ripe and if it retains it indentation it is not. Handle them carefully as they can spoil quickly if damaged. Don't cut them until it is time to be used. Store them in the refrigerator, preferably in a drawer depending on size.

Eggplant is a good ingredient for those people that follow some form of vegetarianism. It works well in place of lasagna noodles or the meat in an eggplant lasagna for example. In my cookbook, More Than Your First Cookbook, I have a recipe that uses eggplant in a side dish, Kevin's Orzo & Eggplant. This Friday's recipe is for Eggplant Parmesan. Both are easy tasty dishes that you should occasionally cook.

One of the reason I bring up eggplant this week is because garden produce is coming to its peak in August and heading into the fall. Eggplant's best time is August through November so give it a try.

Remember, I'm just trying to expand your culinary adventure in cooking. Eggplant is just one way. As the blog continues over time, there will be other ingredients I will try to expose to your taste buds. Enjoy!

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