Mention the vegetable eggplant and several dishes immediately come to mind: stewed Ratatouille, baked Moussaka and, of course, Eggplant Parmesan. It’s an ingredient found in Mediterranean, Indian, Russian and Asian cuisines, to name a few. One of the most popular cooking applications for this delicious ingredient is grilling.
A member of the nightshade family, eggplant can be found in colors ranging from white to striped to deep purple and shapes that are round, long and thin and large pear shape. The first written accounts of this oddly shaped vegetable seem to be around the 5th century in China. It wasn’t until the 16th century that we read about it in Europe and in the 1700’s Thomas Jefferson was growing them in Monticello.
Eggplant is not high on the vitamin food chain, but it does contain potassium, fiber and Vitamin C, and has no cholesterol or fat.
When buying eggplant you want to look for a firm shiny skin and it should have a nice dense heaviness to it. Bruised mushy spots and a dried out stem are signs that it’s been around too long. Once you get it home you want to cook them pretty quickly. Eggplants are perishable and bruise easily. If you do need to store them for a few days wrap in a paper towel and place in the crisper bin of your ‘fridge.
Eggplant is an extremely versatile ingredient, but needs to be cooked. Eating it raw can definitely upset your stomach, and is generally not good eats. They can be baked, sauteed, stewed, fried or even steamed. Keep in mind that eggplant is porous so when frying or grilling you want to lightly brush the slices with oil.
If you are in the mood for a this delicious vegetable, but don’t want the fuss of making a big baked meal, grilling eggplant is a snap. Just take a few slices, brush with a little oil and season with salt and pepper and set in a hot pan for a few minutes on each side. With just couple of other ingredients found in the pantry and ‘fridge and you have a quick side dish in under 30 minutes. Add a protein and you have a perfect light meal.