Eggplants, or aubergines, are not sold by variety in Australia and are available year round. Eggplants are tear-drop shaped, with glossy, deep purple skin and cream-coloured, spongy flesh. You may also find Lebanese eggplants – these are the same colour, but smaller and more elongated in shape.
Select eggplants that are firm and plump, with glossy, brightly coloured skin that is free from wrinkles and blemishes.
Eggplants can be stored at room temperature for 1–2 days and will stay fresh in the crisper for up to a week. Wrap sliced eggplant in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator, but use it as soon as possible.
Eggplants are best when cooked. Simply wash well, then chop or slice (leaving the skin on). There’s no need to remove the seeds or salt the flesh, as was done previously. Add to casseroles and vegie roasts, or chargrill for dips, antipasto and salads.
4 quick ways with eggplants
Craving a savoury snack? Make eggplant ‘chips’! Slice eggplant into 2cm thick wedges and coat in flour. In a separate bowl, mix 30g breadcrumbs with 2 tablespoons each parmesan and fresh chopped parsley, 1 diced garlic clove and 1 teaspoon each black pepper and paprika. Dip wedges into beaten eggs, then coat in breadcrumb mixture. Spray with oil and bake at 200ºC for 15–20 minutes, until crispy.
Make an eggplant ‘lasagne’. Thinly slice 3 eggplants lengthwise and grill for 1–2 minutes per side. Layer slices with ricotta and bolognese sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella and bake at 180ºC for 30 minutes.
Try a warm roast vegie salad. Cut 1 small eggplant, 1 red capsicum, 2 zucchinis and 1 red onion into chunks. Toss with 1 teaspoon olive oil and 2 minced garlic cloves. Bake at 180ºC for 20 minutes. Add a squeeze of lemon juice, 1/4 cup fresh low-fat ricotta and 2 tablespoons each chopped fresh thyme and parsley.
Try this healthy dip. Roast a large, whole eggplant for 35-40 minutes at 200°C. Cool for 15 minutes before scooping out cooked flesh. Chop flesh and combine with 2 crushed garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons tahini and 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice. Roughly mash and stir in 3 sliced green onions.
Did you know? Eggplant is rich in antioxidants, and research has shown that consumption may reduce bad-cholesterol levels and improve blood circulation!
Australian Fruit/Australian Vegetables/Australian apples, hard copy. Jorge PA, Neyra LC, Osaki RM, et al. 1998. Effect of eggplant on plasma lipid levels, lipidic peroxidation and reversion of endothelial dysfunction in experimental hypercholesterolemia. Arq Bras Cardiol;70(2):87-91. Noda Y, Kneyuki T, Igarashi K, et al. 2000. Antioxidant activity of nasunin, an anthocyanin in eggplant peels. Toxicology;148(2-3):119-23. Sydney Markets, 2007. Fresh for kids: Eggplant. Available at URL http://www.freshforkids.com.au/veg_pages/egg_plant/Egg_plant.html. Accessed October 2010.