Eggplants come in various shapes, sizes and colors. The deep purple color that is synonymous with eggplant is the most popular color, but white, light-violet and striped varieties are also available.
There are miniature sized eggplant and ones that can make a meal for several people. Most are a teardrop shape but they range from a long, slender teardrop to an almost round ball with all variations in bewtween. Eggplants are also known to occasionally have noses or be otherwise misshapen.
According to the "Wellness Encyclopedia of Food and Nutrition" (S. Margen and others, Univ. of California at Berkley), eggplants are natives of India that were introduced into Spain in the twelfth century. They got their English name from their egg-shaped fruits that were probably white. Europeans at first were leary of eating the eggplant fruit, suspecting them of causing madness, leprosy, cancer and bad breath, and consequently used them primarily as a decorative plant. By the eighteenth century the Italians and French had adopted them as a food crop.
As the Italians and French discovered, eggplant are a delicious vegetable for cooking. Eggplant are in the Solanaceae family like their cousins the tomato, pepper and potatoes. Like potatoes, eggplant usually are cooked instead of being eaten raw.
The following recipes from the 2012 Pennsylvania Vegetable Recipe Contest offer delightful options for including eggplant in your menus.
3 eggplants cut in thin rounds inch thick
3 tablespoons garlic salt
3 cups whole wheat flour
Season rounds in garlic salt for 1 to 2 minutes. In a bowl, place the whole wheat flour and coat the rounds in flour. Using a sprayed cookie sheet, place the rounds in a single layer and bake at 450 degrees F, turning the rounds until both sides are golden brown.
1 14-ounce can of heart of palm
1/3 cup rice milk
2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1/2 onion, diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups spaghetti sauce of choice
Mix first four ingredients in a saucepan and boil until mixture thickens. Transfer to blender and blend adding olive oil. Placing eggplant rounds on a serving dish, coat with a tablespoon of spaghetti sauce then on top a teaspoon of heart of palm sauce. Garnish with basil leaves.
- Submitted by Elen Wennell, Mechanicsburg.
Eggplant with spicy sesame sauce
2 pounds eggplant
1/4 cup soy (light or dark)
1/4 cup sesame oil
3 tablespoons dry sherry wine
2 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste)
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons minced scallions (white part, reserve green tops)
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon fresh minced garlic (about 3 large cloves)
1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
2 teaspoon chili paste with garlic (available at Asian markets)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
Peel eggplant. Slice into 3/4-inch slices and then cut out pinkie finger size pieces. Either steam them or put in batches of single layer in microwave on high for 4 1/2 minutes. Place all other ingredients except sesame seeds and scallion tops in a bowl and whisk together. Place eggplant fingers single layer on a serving platter. Drizzle sauce over all. Toast the sesame seed. Sprinkle minced scallion tops and sesame seeds over all.
- Submitted by Marilyn Goldfarb, Boalsburg.