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Calorie Count Blog

Cooking with Eggplant


By clairelaine on Aug 07, 2009 12:00 PM in Recipes

It's popular all over the globe!  Shiny and black or long and purple, or even pure white, varieties of this vegetables can be found everywhere.

Known by many names, in the Mediterannean area it's known as aubergine.  In Australia  it's called eggfruit.  Africans call it garden egg, and Indians refer to it as brinjal. Only in the United States is it called eggplant.  Versatile, it's used in the cuisines of many countries.  We're going exploring to find the tastiest dishes. 

Although we are most familiar with the nearly black, shiny, large fruits, eggplant comes in a variety of colors and shapes, from the long light purple or striped Asian variety, to an actual egg shaped white fruit. 

About.com offers us several good articles about selecting, storing and preparing eggplant.

There are so many ways to prepare eggplant it's hard to decide on a favorite method. Most of the time it is served as breaded and fried slices, stacked in casseroles. There are also more healthful preparations, such as the recipes shown below.  Eggplant is delicious with tomatoes and peppers, or grilled, or roasted and made into a cold dip.  Lemon complements the flavor, as do Asian seasonings.

We've selected today's recipes to reflect its international popularity.

  • Classic Caponata - A spicy southern Italian relish served at room temperature. Capers and olives add saltiness.  Tomatoes, fresh basil and garlic give the dish it's special appeal

  • Aubergine Patties - Chopped and firmed up with bread crumbs and egg, these are delicious in a sandwich, instead of hamburgers, or served as a side dish.

  • Eggplant Parmesan - Everybody's favorite Italian dish.  This is a healthier version that uses crushed cereal and egg substitute, with the slices baked instead of breaded and fried. It's layered with all the delicious flavors of the original.


Comments


Minor correction, in Australia it's called eggplant and occasionally aubergine. Still yummy though



How can you tell when the big shiny purple one is ripe/fresh? Out of the 3-4 times I've cooked eggplant, it didn't come out well, and I don't know if it was ripe or not.  It had pretty large seeds in the flesh that I never noticed when eating out/eating at friends'



In Australia it is usually called eggplant - not eggfruit. I have heard it called aubergine but never eggfruit.



I have no idea how to prepare, pick the right one or anything about eggplant. I assume you peel it.  Is there seeds to remove.  What does it taste like.  Do you boil it, bake it or only fry it? Is it like zucchini, in that it takes on the taste of what it is in? Eggplant 101 class please help! Anyone.



I will try the Thai Basil Eggplant recipe. It looks very healthy. I recently lost 88 pounds and I pay close attention to what goes into my recipes. Some of my favorites are in my new book, "Thinking Skinny."



More International Eggplant recipes, from the newsletter

Japanese Eggplant with Mirin

This excellent side dish captures Japanese flavors of ginger, soy sauce.  Chili sauce adds an appealing zing... continue reading

 

Lebanese Eggplant

A popular baked eggplant and tomato dish with Middle Eastern aromas and flavors.... continue reading

 

Thai Basil Eggplant (Pud Makau Yow)

A simple but tasty way to prepare eggplant. Any eggplant can be used, but it's best with long Japanese eggplant... continue reading



I referenced three articles from About.com for the purpose of keeping my blog short and sweet.  Many of your questions about choosing eggplant can be answered by the About.com article I referenced above

Eggplant Selection & Storage

Look for a fruit that is shiny black and very firm, and not too large. If it's dark and shiny, it's ripe.  The stem cap should be bright green and fresh looking.  When you cut the eggplant open, the seeds will either be pale or dark.  Some people feel that the dark seeds will be bitter, and they salt and drain their eggplant slices to draw off the bitterness.  I, personally don't find it so, but I do prefer the younger, paler one.  Fluffydragon, I'd say you bought an eggplant that was too mature. 

Most questions about cooking eggplant are answered by the other tow About.com articles I referenced

  • Cooking Tips
  • Using Eggplant
  • If you have questions about specific recipes you are using, please feel free to ask them here.  I'll be checking in all weekend, and I love hearing from everyone.

    Thank you very much to our Australian members!  I guess my source of infomation was incorrect, and I do appreciate you setting us straight.  Who knows?  Maybe one day I'll be able to visit your country!



    If anyone has a good recipe for Moussaka, please do post it, or put it into the recipe analyzer and post a link to it.  I've had wonderful eggplant dishes in middle eastern restaurants and would love to know how to cook them, so please do contribute if you can.



    I've just ate an eggplant yesterday! I live in Rome, Italy and you really get everywhere a meal with eggplant (in italian it's "melanzane"). I absolutely love and prefer the not-fried healthier versions.

    How do you know if the eggplant is good or not ... I've heard from an Italian cook that the eggplant should be soft - not too soft of course - but not hard as stone!

    How I prepared it yesterday:

    - Put a bit of olive oil in a pan.
    - Cut the eggplant, peperonis, zucchini and tomatoes in pieces. (as you like it).
    - Give everything in the pan...
    - After several minutes add ca. 400ml bouillon
    - Let it cook for about 5-10 minutes.
    -- Here you go-- a yummi soup with fresh vegetables - or you just take out the vegetables.... spice with some pepper / salt and enjoy!



    FluffyDragon,

    I have found that how good it tastes depends on how you cook it. I like to sweat mine in the oven by poking some holes in it and rubbing salt on it. (make sure you poke some holes since they will explode if you dont) Also, I find that the bigger eggplants have seeds that are more bitter. I like to use the chinese eggplants that are fairly small and are kind of purple and white. My husband also doesn't like the skin on the large eggplants, so I have a tendency to peel them if I'm not going to sweat it.



    The above link and subsequent receipt for Eggplant Parmesan is missing and ingredient.  1 cup of what?  Sauce?  What kind of sauce?  It's the 2nd ingredient on the list. 



    Caviar d'Aubergine is also a tasty dish.  It was a cheap dish to make, also know as 'peasant's caviar.'  It is also a Romanian (Puttlajel or Patlagea Vana) French, and Jewish dish.

    It is extremely simple to make, and delicous with bread or on top of a salad.

    You first poke holes into the eggplant/s and then broil it/them til the skin is wrinkly and burnt and the inside is soft.  While it is cooking, you cut some garlic and combine it with olive oil (adjust proportions according to your taste preferences, my family and I love a ton of garlic!).  Once the eggplant is cooked and cooled, scoop out the inside and mix with the olive oil and garlic.  Serve and enjoy!



    Yep, poke the egg plant before you roast it. Ask me how I know? Sandblasting eggplant from the oven was not intended to be on my "To Do" list that week.



    Barbiecats- my guess is that 1 cup shouldn't be there.  Hopefully we will get that verified though.  I can't wait to make it...YUM!



    Original Post by: enterdanger

    FluffyDragon,

    I have found that how good it tastes depends on how you cook it. I like to sweat mine in the oven by poking some holes in it and rubbing salt on it. (make sure you poke some holes since they will explode if you dont) Also, I find that the bigger eggplants have seeds that are more bitter. I like to use the chinese eggplants that are fairly small and are kind of purple and white. My husband also doesn't like the skin on the large eggplants, so I have a tendency to peel them if I'm not going to sweat it.


    Thanks!! I'll just try experimenting with smaller ones.  I don't like the skin either on the big purple ones.



    Sandblasting eggplant...HA HA

     

    Does the eggplant dry out due to roasting, does salt keep it from drying out?  I used to cook it in oil on the stove top but the roasting would be much healthier.



    The best eggplant recipes ever:

    First, Romanian Eggplant salad.

    You need real fire for this and patience. In Romania I use to make a wood fire and just place the eggplants there. I'm in Canada now and I use the rear burner of my gas grill. I roast eggplants one by one, on the flames, about 10-15 minutes each (depending on size), turning them once. They need to stay on the flames until the skin is completely burned:-) and the inside cooked (very mushy). I usually roast 6 big eggplants because we love this dish and we'll eat for 3-4 days every morning, lunch and one snack afternoon:-)

    After cooking you need to peel them, yeah, not funny. My husband loves this part. They smell like cigarettes:-) (Eggplant is richer in nicotine than any other edible plant) After peeling you need to keep them in a plastic colander for at least one hour. Then, using a hand mixer or a knife, smash them! Then, some people use mayo - about 3 spoons. I use olive oil - 3-4 spoons, 2 tsp of salt and a chopped onion. And voila, we eat this as a spread on bred or crackers. During July, August and September I cook this every weekend!

    Next recipe: Musaka (I'm pretty sure this is a Hungarian Recipe)

    This is a very yummy breakfast, and easy to make. Just peel one eggplant, cut in little cubes of 1/2". On a pan with olive oil, when oil is hot put the cubes in, add salt, use a wooden spoon to mix very fast for 5 or 10 minutes on all sides (my mom will sometimes put a chopped tomato there). The little cubes will absorb all the oil in the beginning. When they leave the oil out you're ready. Break an egg and black pepper, mix for 10 seconds.

    I tried these recipes on all my friends and ALL of them were amazed! Some of them are Canadians, some Indians, Chinese, and Germans...

    Yes, I love eggplants!

    I know one more great recipe using roasted eggplans and rosated red peppers, onion. We call this Zacusca in Romania and I spend one whole day a year to make about 50 jars. Well, I have no time now to write the recipe, my boss is coming:-)

    Yes, one thing, when choosing eggplant, they have to be soft, not hard as a rock.

     



    In Portugal (Mediterannean area), it is known as bringela. This name comes after the Indian name from where the plant was brought to Europe by the portuguese navigators in the end of the XIV century. Portugal was in India and China for more than 300 years before any other European country.



    Thank you claire, by the way, your journey is very insipring. Glad you posted pictures.



    I love eggplant and I have this recipe found on the internet.
    - Eggplant
    - Tomato
    - Mozzarella or goat cheese
    - Balsamic vinegar
    - Olive oil
    - Fresh ground pepper
    Cut the eggplant, tomato and cheese in 1 1/2" slices aprox.  
    Mix balsamic vinegar with olive oil, soak the eggplant slices on the mix, adding pepper to each one. 
    Make "sandwiches" with the slices of eggplant, tomato, cheese and eggplant again.  Cook on a grill for 5 min. aprox.  Ver delicious as a side dish or an appetizer.
    In Mexico is called "Berenjena", my name is Bere, so guess which name some friends call me...



    Original Post by: barbiecats2000

    The above link and subsequent receipt for Eggplant Parmesan is missing and ingredient.  1 cup of what?  Sauce?  What kind of sauce?  It's the 2nd ingredient on the list. 


    I've investigated and discover that the correct ingredient is this one

    http://caloriecount.about.com/calories-presidents-choice-spl endido-pizza-sauce-i87560?user_size=1&size_name=1+cup&am p;size_grams=240

    The author of the recipe pulled it up by using the item number [87560] which doesn't show on the final recipes.  The description of the ingredient was not entered, but the nutritional information is correct. 



    Original Post by: hwickers

    Sandblasting eggplant...HA HA

     

    Does the eggplant dry out due to roasting, does salt keep it from drying out?  I used to cook it in oil on the stove top but the roasting would be much healthier.


    If you want to flame roast eggplant, it's best done on the grill.  I do it in the oven, either pierced or cut in half, cut side down on a baking sheet.  I roast it until it collapses.  It doesn't dry out because eggplant is a very "wet" vegetable. 

    My use for roasted eggplant is Baba Ganoosh aka Middle Eastern Eggplant Dip

    If you can char the eggplant, the dip has a nice smoky flavor.  If not, it's still really good. 

    Tips:  If, after it's roasted, I find that there are large, dark seeds, I remove them before chopping and mashing the flesh.  It makes an nicer appearance and I really don't like those larger seeds.  When I cut it open, I have lemon juice ready to sprinkle over it as I work.  That keeps the color light and appealing - much prettier.



    i tried them...

    you know what this recipe help me in my daily diet...

    just this morning i weighed my self and i loss 3 pounds!!!

     



    it s nice



    Comment Removed

    @fluffygarden - When you buy an eggplant, pick it up and it should feel light for its size. If an eggplant has a lot of seeds it willbe heavier. SO the lighter the eggplant is lesser seeds it will have. So if you have 2 eggplants of same size the lighter one is better.



    I'm a finicky eater and have never had eggplant.  What does it taste like?



    Original Post by: missy397

    I'm a finicky eater and have never had eggplant.  What does it taste like?


    My suggestion is to have a little taste of somebody else's.  The taste is not comparable to anything I can think of.  Sometimes there is a hint of bitterness, but also sweetness - it balances out.  It absorbs other flavors easily too, so one preparation might be to your liking, and another not.

    The texture is soft when cooked.  It can be almost creamy.

    Try it.  Maybe you'll like it and maybe you won't



    Please check out and try my eggplant recipe!!!  It taste just like eggplant parm but with way less calories.

     



    I'm not a big fan of eggplant, but one way that I've found I do like it is as a pizza topping - slice very thin with a mandoline, place slices on a paper towel, sprinkle with salt to draw out the water, then use on pizza. Looks sort of like pepperoni that way :P This works best with the skinny Japanese eggplants, and they don't need to be peeled first. It would probably also be good if you treated your pizza like a ratatouille tart - skip the cheese and alternate slices of eggplant and summer squash.



    Thanks for your reply Clairelaine, but we don't know anyone who eats eggplant locally.  Next time I'm in the produce section, I'll chat with someone there who happens to be hanging around the eggplant.

    Laughing



    Original Post by: chickevolving

    I have no idea how to prepare, pick the right one or anything about eggplant. I assume you peel it.  Is there seeds to remove.  What does it taste like.  Do you boil it, bake it or only fry it? Is it like zucchini, in that it takes on the taste of what it is in? Eggplant 101 class please help! Anyone.


    Yes, the writer has got this wrong because an eggfruit is something else entirely.



    What a coincidence, I just cooked eggplant today :)

    I am an Indian and I like eggplant. We usually cook eggplant in an Indian spiced coconut gravy and it turns so tasty. The eggplant gives it own aroma & unique flavour to the gravy & with whole-wheat tortillas it tastes heavenly.

     

     



    Original Post by: ejulia

    In Australia it is usually called eggplant - not eggfruit. I have heard it called aubergine but never eggfruit.


    totally agree.... not sure were they got that we call eggplant eggfruit?



    I love to cut it into slices and fry it like fried squash. Yummy!!



    Folks, I used a reference I googled to find the different names for eggplant.  I guess my resource was wrong, although it's one I usually trust to be accurate.  I've already acknowleged the mistake and thanked those who brought it to my attention.  And I thank you two.  I've never been to your great country and aplogize again for my inaccuracy. 

    The name eggplant is because europeans first saw eggplants that had white, egg shaped fruits.

    White Eggplant  see?

     



    When I do a stirfry, I'll often use eggplant.  It has a slightly nutty bitter taste.  I typically remove the skin for stirfry.  Then, slice it, sprinkle it with salt to remove some of the bitterness, let it sit a few minutes, wipe it dry, then cube it to add near the end of the stirfry's fry time.

    I was just at my mom's, where she made an easy, lightweight version of fried eggplant. I've always loved the actual fried eggplant but (a) I always get splattered with oil, (b) it's very high fat, and (c) it's time consuming to fry an entire eggplant!  This one is nearly as good and much healthier and faster.  (And no more ruined shirts!)

    1. Make an egg and milk mix (or just egg if you're dairy-free) in one small bowl (starting with 2 beaten eggs -- you can make more later if you need).
    2. Put bread crumbs with italian seasonings (garlic, salt, oregano, parsley) in another small bowl.  (For GF alternative:  crumble rice krispies or cornflakes and use in place of bread crumbs)
    3. Spray a baking pan with a good coating of Pam lo-cal oil spray.
    4. Slice the eggplant with the skin on, at least 1 cm thick.  (If you already know you like eggplant make it thicker, but if you're new to it, the thinner it is, the milder the flavor.  Too thin, though, and it falls apart to nothing.)
    5. Dip it in the egg mixture, then dip it in the bread crumb mixture.  If you want, you can dip again in egg and bread crumbs for a thicker coating.
    6. Place it on the pan.  When the pan is full, spray generously with Pam.
    7. Bake at 350F for about ten minutes.  Turn the slices over and spray them again, then bake the 2nd side for another ten minutes.
    8. That's it!  If you want to make it a meal, pour over it your favorite Italian tomato sauce and sprinkle cheese on it.  Put it back in to the oven until the cheese melts.


    I LOVE eggplant.  Here's a dish I came up with when we had some large zucchinis in our garden.

    Eggplant

    Zucchini

    Tomatoes

    Seasoning (fresh or dried - I often use oregano or "Italian seasoning")

    Mozzarella

    Olive oil

     

    Slice vegetables, 1/4 - 1/2" thick

    Rub some olive oil on the bottom of a backing dish

    Layer vegetables covering as much of the dish as possible as follows: eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes

    Pour a little olive oil followed by seasoning on tomatoes.  Add grated mozzarella.

    Repeat layers until you run out of vegetables or room.  Be sure to end with grated mozzarella.

    Bake covered in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes.

    Turn up oven to 400 degrees and back uncovered until cheese starts to brown.

    Enjoy. I take this in for lunches all week long!!!

     

     

     

     



    Eggplant Pizzaiola (Pizza style eggplant)

    The first part can be done ahead of time

    Peel and slice 1/2 inch thick, one or two eggplants
    dust with seasoned flour, dip in beaten egg or egg substitute, then in bread crumbs.  Let the slices sit for a while to dry a bit.
    Spray or brush a baking sheet with olive oil and arrange the slices, not touching.  Brush or spray the tops.
    Bake at 400 F for about half an hour, turning half way through, until golden brown with a crunchy crust. 
    Set aside.

    Take the eggplant slices and arrange them, overlapping on a baking sheet to make one solid layer with no holes. 
    Top as you would a pizza, with sauce, mozzarella cheese and any other pizza toppings you like, leaving a 1/2 inch border around the edges.

    Put into a 450 F oven for 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melting, bubbly and beginning to brown in specks. 

    Cut into squares and serve.  Eat with a knife and fork - you can't pick it up like a real pizza. 



    I used eggplant with veggie-kabobs I made for a dinner party last night. Eggplant, Zucchini, bell peppers, mushrooms and onions, drizzled with white wine vinegar and EVOO, sprinkled with salt and greek seasoning. They were a big hit! :)



    I usually make eggplant in a curry fashion with tomatoes, onions and something to space the bitterness like potatoes(sweet or brown).

     

    I find that picking the small eggplants or the asian stripped variety are less bitter, and are easier to cut into medium sized pieces.

    I just put less than a tsp of oil (usually sunflower oil). I add some tomatoes (medium cubbed), Onions (finely chopped) and keep stirring till the onions are light brown, add the eggplant and potatoes (cut into medium sized pieces). stir this for about 2 mins, and add water (just enough to submerge everything) and spices to taste. I usually go light on spices and just add some salt, a pich of turmuric and black pepper.



    for the eggplant parm if you mix 1cup of parm cheese with 1/4 cup of seasoned bread crumbs and oregano spray with olive oil cooking spray pass in the dry mixture bake at 450 for 25 minutes it is way less carbs



    Smilethe thai basil eggplant is amazing!  Add some thinly sliced chicken like in the thai restaurants and eat with brown rice for a very nutritious meal 



    hahah eggfruit - i'm an Aussie in the UK I heard it called many things... never eggfruit

    maybe I will start!



    I love eggplant.  I make a stuffed eggplant, or slice v thin and use cooking spray- onto a sprayed cooking sheet and roast till crisp and eat like chips, or roast till golden and layer with thin thin sprinkle of parmasan cheese in a casserole with a simple maranara sauce and bake--serve on thin sliced sourdough baggette, or a salad with fresh tomato diced, green pepper diced, red onion diced (these are all raw) and diced eggplant that has been roasted--with a red-wine vinaigrette, thick sliced eggplant oiled salt and pepper and roast and have on a crusty roll with sliced tomato and lettuce...

    starbuedreamer



    Comment Removed

    Hiya,

    I love eggplant too..

    in India u make it in various ways.. this one is a quickie

    Roast eggplant on fire (incase u dont have the gas type cookers, micorwave it by making some slits in it till its done)

    If u have roasted it in fire, remove the burnt skin.. keep the unburnt part.. that gives it a smoky aroma and taste.. now crush or mash it so that its of coarse consistency

    Grind dry red chillies with garlic and cumin seeds

    heat a little amount of oil in a wok/pan and add cumin seeds, curry leaves..

    Add in the eggplant mixture and the red chillies garlic paste, salt to taste and fry on low heat..

    Remove from heat when you can smell that its cooked ..(dunno how to express it here, but it will start smelling awesome!! )

    This is calle dbaingan bharta in india... incase u visit and want to try it :)



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