Fresh Friday - Eggplant in Season!

I have done quite a bit of research on this Vegetable, because it is popping up everywhere, in everything!  It is in season late summer (July to October), and seems to be in many recipes lately.  My first experiences with Eggplant were not great, it was one of those you look at and know it wont taste good, then taste it, throw it away, and pick left overs instead!  This happened 2 times, and I couldn't figure out why I couldn't get this one right.  That is when I decided to learn more about it and figure out how to select, store and prepare better in hopes of being able to prepare and enjoy this beautifully colored vegetable!   Once you learn how to actually prepare it, it can be quite good.  Here are some of the tips and the information I learned about Eggplant.

Picture from Socialcafemag

General Info: Eggplant is a cousin to tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes, and gets its name from the first varieties to reach the West, which were white, round, and egg-sized. While colors range from creamy white to green, the shiny, intense purple eggplant is usually the most recognizable. Eggplant shapes also vary. Some are small and spherical while others are long, narrow, and curved like a banana, there are others that are large and bottle-shaped.
Buy: Although available year-round, eggplants taste best and are most readily available from July to October. When purchasing, look for firm eggplants that feel heavy for their size and have smooth, shiny skins. The stem should be bright green, and the skin should spring back when pressed. Avoid eggplants with soft spots, discolorations, and scarred or wrinkled  skin.

Store: Eggplants are best stored in a cool, dry place (50° is ideal) for one to two days. For longer storage, place whole, unwashed -eggplants in a plastic bag in the vegetable drawer of your fridge.
Use: Wash in cool water, cut off the stem and bottom ends with a stainless steel knife (carbon steel can discolor the flesh), then slice or dice the eggplant according to your recipe’s direction. While eggplant skin is edible, some varieties, especially white and very large purple ones, can have tough skins that may work better if peeled.

Taste: Eggplant is a meaty vegetable with firm, sponge-like flesh and a mild, slightly bitter flavor.  Because of the meatiness, it is an excellent substitute for meat when trying to make a dish vegetarian. Some people suggest soaking peeled eggplant in salt water before use to reduce the bitter flavor.  Also, male eggplants have fewer seeds and tend to be less bitter. Determine the sex by looking at the indentation on the bottom―if deep and shaped like a dash, it’s female; if shallow and round, it’s male. (who knew?)

To Eat: Try making babaganoush easily by blending roasted eggplant, garlic, tahini, lemon juice and a little olive oil.  This can be a great dip for other vegetables, or as a spread on sandwiches.  Eggplant is great in with other vegetables such as grilled peppers and onions, toss all three with garlic and a balsamic vinaigrette for a quick and easy side dish.  Eggplants are delicious stuffed.  Try adding eggplant to your next stir fry dish.

Nutrition: For 1 cup of chopped eggplant, you will only find 20 calories!  It also contains 3 grams of fiber, folate, and Manganese.  Eggplant contains important phyto nutrients, as well as flavonoids, such as nasunin.  Nasunin is a potent antioxidant, and has been shown in studies to protect cell membranes from damage.
Do you have a favorite way to prepare or eat eggplant?  Share in the comments below!

Hope you got your daily dose of nutrition today, and thanks for reading!  If you enjoy the blog, please share using the buttons below, or in the box to the right.  Also, we would love to have you join us!  Join this site in the "followers" box to the right.  "Like" the blog on facebook, and follow me on twitter (@jennasteprd) and pinterest using the the boxes on the right.  Thanks, and have a great day! ~jenna

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