It is a Nightshade vegetable, as are Tomatoes, Peppers and Potatoes (not sweet potatoes). Eggplant is actually a fruit and not always shaped like an egg! Hmm…read on!
|Purple Aubergine courtesy James Barker|
|Green Eggplant courtesy Nuttakit|
|Violet Eggplant courtesy Patpitchaya|
|Long purple eggplant courtesy Sommai|
The good news is that eggplant is available most of the year, (although it's proper season is fall), and it is a relatively inexpensive and a versatile food. Low in calories and low glycemic, it is a good source of fiber, folate, Vitamins C, K, B6, Potassium and other beneficial minerals.
Now, some of the bad news: Eggplant can have a bitter taste and is not one of the most popular vegetable/fruits. Often it is served soaked in oil, heavily breaded, drenched in sauce and camouflaged in some way. Some varieties have a bitter taste. When it is prepared carelessly, it is a greasy mess and counters its healthy, savory aspects! Eggplant has the ability to absorb enormous amounts of oil, so caution is advised when preparing it. It cooks well and tastes better without all the grease!
Eggplant originally came from India and China, over 2,000 years ago. It arrived in Europe around the 14th century, then on to the Middle East and later came to the Americas. In Europe it is a rich part of Italian, Greek and Provencal cuisines, and is part of the Mediterranean diet. You will find eggplant served in various ways in Chinese, Japanese, Turkish and Indian cuisines. When prepared traditionally, it makes a delicious dish in many forms, Baked, Sauteed, Stir-fried, Layered, Stuffed, Pickled and combined with other vegetables in ragouts and sauces. Think Babaganoush, Ratatouille and Caponata! Have you heard of Imam Bayildi,(The Priest Fainted)…?? A Turkish dish? It is worth investigating just why he fainted!! Eggplant and nutmeg play a starring role in this delight!
Eggplant is rich in antioxidant phenols, plant chemicals, especially Chlorogenic acid. Chlorogenic Acid is a powerful antidote to free radicals; it has anti-cancer, anti microbial, anti viral properties and anti LDL cholesterol properties. So why the controversy?? Isn't this delicious health food??
As mentioned previously, eggplant belongs to a plant family called Solanaceae, or Nightshades. It has not yet been scientifically proven, but it appears that this type of plant aggravates inflammation and arthritis. Suffers often find relief when they eliminate them from their diet. Ancient lore hints that because they grow at night they are "poisonous". All Nightshades had a bad reputation at one time in history! Thank goodness men got brave and tried them! (and lived!)
Eggplant also has oxalates which can crystallize in the body, and can interfere with calcium absorption.
People in good health and with normal digestive systems, do not have to be concerned. Only those with kidney or other issues need be cautious. Oxalates are also found in many green, leafy vegetables. Eating a variety of vegetables assures a balance and the benefits outweigh any concern about oxalates.
So make up your mind, Eggplant Parmesan, Moussaka, an Eggplant Napoleon? I vote in favor of the purple or other color fruit/vegetabl
I love eggplant and eat it fairly often. I am sharing a recipe which is healthy, light, delicious and suitable for SOLA cooking. The recipe is an adaptation from La Tavola Marche.
VEGETABLE STUFFED EGGPLANT
Preheat oven 375 degrees
- 1 medium purple eggplant
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion
- 1 clove garlic (large!)
- 4 sweet mini peppers, red, orange and yellow (or 1/2 large pepper)
- 1 celery rib
- 4 shitatke (or other variety) mushrooms
- 1 medium tomato
- salt, pepper
- oregano (1-2 teaspoons)
- stock or broth
- Grated Asiago cheese (1/4 cup approx.)
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon milk or cream
Saute all the vegetables including the eggplant centers in olive oil for about 10-15 minutes until soft and well mixed. Add salt, pepper and oregano. Let mixture cool slightly.
Beat egg with a little milk and add to vegetable mixture.
Stuff eggplant pieces with mixture. Oil a baking dish and place eggplant in dish.
Add some broth or wine or tomato juice (about 2 tablespoons) to baking dish.
Ready to be bakedSprinkle with cheese, cover with foil and bake for about 30 minutes. Take off foil and bake for 15 minutes more until slightly browned on top. Garnish with fresh parsley and mint if desired or Basil.
Bon Appetit! Buon' Appetito! Sola!