Recipe by Chef Cindy
Tempted to have a “rendezvous” with fairy tale eggplant?
One of the best ways to decide “what’s for dinner” is to simply stroll around the produce section and see what jumps out at you. First and foremost, it is important to look for produce that is organic, local & seasonal. Most often, you will find printed signs by the produce sharing details about its country of origin, the farm it was grown on (local) and if its organic. Imagine seeing these gorgeous, violet-purple fairy tale eggplants … how could you resist! This “Fairy Tale Eggplant Sauté” is always a big hit!!
Why is eggplant called eggplant?
The origin of eggplant dates back to the 1700’s where the Europeans named it for its similar shape and size to goose eggs.
Eggplant is also referred to as aubergine, or brinjal. It is most often considered a vegetable, but it is a berry (fruit) by botanical definition.
Why are they called “fairy tale” eggplants?
They are quite “enchanting” little eggplants (as if from a fairy tale), with beauty in its violet color, sweetness in its taste and petite charm in its size!
How do I choose eggplant?
Italian eggplant (what we typically see in the market), is available year–round, but the season for eggplant is at its peak from July to October. There are many sizes, colors and varieties of eggplants to choose from – Italian, Graffiti, White, Japanese & Chinese, Indian, Little Green and Thai …. to name a few.
Fairy tale eggplant only grow to about 4 inches in length and are about an inch in diameter.
Tips for buying eggplant in general: Eggplant should be firm but not hard, smooth & shiny, and free of brown blemishes or soft spots. Male eggplant have a brown circle on the bottom and tend to have less seeds. Some people believe smaller eggplants have a better taste but keep in mind that size doesn’t necessarily determine the bitterness of the eggplant. I would say it’s more important to pay attention the look & feel when choosing your eggplant.
You can store it at room temperature for 2 days and refrigerate up until a week.
Is the skin of fairy tale eggplant healthy for you?
YES, YES, YES …. eat the skin!
Nasunin is an anthocyanin in the eggplant skin. It is a powerful antioxidant that protects brain cell membranes from free radical damage.
Anthocyanins are water-soluble pigments that have many health benefits. They also help give the eggplant its well-known, dark purple color.
The skin of the eggplant is also rich in fiber, potassium, and magnesium.
Eggplants are in the nightshade family. For people with some health conditions, eliminating nightshades from their diet has been shown to be beneficial for them. But, I would keep in mind many of the health benefits before excluding them.
What are the best ways to prepare eggplant?
To decrease some of the bitterness found in other varieties of eggplant, it can be helpful to draw out some of the compounds that contribute to the eggplant’s bitter taste when “sweating” the eggplant.
How to Sweat Eggplant:
- Cut the eggplant into slices or bite-site pieces.
- Sprinkle salt on both sides and let the salted pieces sit for about 30 minutes.
- Moisture will be drawn out, just rinse with water and then dab dry.
This will leave the eggplant more tender, less bitter, and more palatable. It will also make the pieces less prone to absorbing any oil used when cooking.
TIP: According to the Spruce Eats, to prevent freshly-cut eggplant from going brown when exposed to the air – prepare a bowl of water in advance prior to cutting eggplant. Then add a tablespoonful of milk to it. Add the freshly cut eggplant to this and it will not blacken.
Favorite EASY eggplant recipes:
Baba ghanoush: grill the eggplant in halves for 30 to 40 minutes, remove the flesh and blend with yogurt, tahini, lime juice, garlic and spices to taste. Top with roasted pine nuts and serve with pita bread.
Ratatouille: Combine eggplant, onion, garlic, zucchini, peppers, and tomato, sautéd in a little olive oil, to make a ratatouille
There are so many ways to prepare eggplant – baked, fried, grilled and sauteéd. Get creative!
Why eating seasonal is important:
In this day and age, you can go to the grocery store and get your hands on almost any ingredient whether it’s in season or not. Unfortunately this way of consumerism is not sustainable and more often than not, when you buy ingredients that are not locally in season, they have very little flavor and less nutrients. To learn more about eating seasonally check out our Seasonal Produce Guide found HERE!
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Fairy Tale Eggplant SautéPrint Recipe
- 3.5 oz shiitake mushrooms
- 1 - 2 shallots
- 1 roasted red pepper jarred is fine
- ½ yellow pepper
- 10 fairy tale eggplants
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp crushed garlic
- 1 tbsp ketchup
- 1 tsp fermented chile paste **see note
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 13.4 oz container of garbanzo beans chick peas, strained & rinsed
- 3-4 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
- salt & pepper to taste
- Clean, stem & slice the shiitake mushrooms
- Peel shallots, chop finely
- Slice the red peppers into slivers
- Dice the yellow pepper
- Rinse the eggplants under running water. Dry, trim the top end (with the greens) and slice each lengthwise.
- Mix all the wet ingredients together in a measuring cup and set aside.
- Heat 2 tbsp oil to a non stick pan. Cook shiitake mushrooms for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add shallots and cook until lightly browned.
- Remove mushrooms & onions from pan and set aside.
- Add remaining (2 tbsp) oil to pan, and place eggplant in pan cut side down.
- Cook until slightly tender, about 6-8 minutes. Add in yellow peppers & garlic and cook another 2 -3 minute before adding mushrooms and onions back to pan.
- Add wet ingredients and stir gently.
- Add in chick peas and cook until all ingredients are blended & heated thoroughly. Add salt & pepper to taste.
- Top with chopped cilantro & serve!