Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Incredible, Edible, Egg(plant)

     I’ve had eggplant in my garden for each of the last three summers, and I have yet to even being to tap into the potential of this great ingredient. With every fruit I harvest I look for a new way to prepare it and looks as if I could grow eggplant for twenty years and not make the same dish twice. Click here for just a small taste of the possibilities for the eggplant, via The Food Network. It is probably not the most widely known, or utilized ingredient in American cuisine but the possibilities are certainly limitless with this violet veggie. There are only few main varieties that are readily available in the vast majority of grocery stores but a morning at the local farmer’s market or a trip to the local specialty foods store could yield any number of beautiful heirloom varieties with colors as varied as the shapes.

     The recipes and preparations of the eggplant are just as diverse as its shape and color. It perhaps holds up to as many different preparation strategies and cooking techniques as any vegetable. Deep fried, grilled, roasted, pureed, as an appetizer, side dish or a main course, it’s good in soups, stews, sandwiches, pasta, salads, dips, sauces… (did I mention the virtual limitlessness of the eggplant?) It can even act as the dish itself!!  Not only are you going to get great flavor and a wide range of applications, but the health benefits of eggplant should be just as appealing. It’s a good source of folic acid (cancer prevention) and potassium (helps brain/nerve function) as well as helping to fight off the formation of those pesky free radicals!

     I hope this short article will inspire next time you're at the market to embrace the eggplant.  As always, save yourself some time and find a recipe that appeals to you before you go to the market, I find that to be the best way to be sure you have all the ingredients on hand.

A couple of my Listada de Gandia variety