One of the benefits of having a warm summer extending into fall is the weather is perfect for enjoying a late crop of eggplant. They enjoy a long, warm growing season. The plants are still loaded with blemish-free fruits. We will continue to pick eggplants until we have a frost.
Homegrown eggplant are always better than those in the store. They are very perishable and should be enjoyed soon after they’ve been picked. If you are not a gardener and must purchase eggplant, look for those with a nice, shiny skin. The stem and cap should be bright green.
Uncut eggplant should be stored in a plastic bag at 50 degrees, due to sensitivity to cold and heat.
Did you know that an eggplant is considered a fruit and not a vegetable?
Botanically, an eggplant is a fruit, because it contains numerous soft, edible seeds. In a culinary application, an eggplant is a vegetable, because it is primarily used in savory dishes.
Eggplant is not a nutritional powerhouse like other fruits and vegetables. It is low in fat, cholesterol and sodium. One cup of cooked eggplant has approximately 30 calories. To boost nutritional content, it is often paired with tomatoes, onions, peppers and squash.
It is a myth that eggplant must always be salted before cooking to remove the bitter taste. It may work with some varieties, but there are many different types of eggplant on the market today that are not the bitter fruits of the past. Smaller eggplants are less likely to be bitter. The fruit will absorb large amounts of cooking fat, and the salting process may help reduce the amount of oil that is absorbed.
Eggplant is a versatile fruit. It can be roasted, stewed, baked and broiled. Try as you might, it is difficult to overcook eggplant. The flesh gets increasingly tender the longer it cooks. The trick is to not undercook it.
These Spicy Eggplant Slices were easy to prepare and made a nice vegetarian lunch when paired with a salad.
Spicy Eggplant Slices
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon red pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 425°.
Line a baking sheet with parchment. Slice eggplant into rounds. Put the slices on the baking sheet in a single layer.
Mix the olive oil, garlic, red pepper, smoked paprika and Italian seasoning in a small bowl. Brush the eggplant slices with the olive oil. Mixture on both sides.
Put the eggplant in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Remove eggplant from the oven and sprinkle with salt.