Edible Eggplants - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Nancy's Corner

Edible Eggplants

By WLOX Staff

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - I love to spy the different fruits and vegetables at our local markets this time of year.  Eggplants are a favorite that should be around until the fall. Regardless of the shape or color, eggplants are a delicious, nutritious addition to family meals.

  1. Nutritional Value & Health Benefits Eggplants are naturally low in calories and unpeeled, provide some fiber. There is also some folate and potassium.
  2. Selection & Storage Harvest eggplants when they are young. Size is not always an indication of maturity. To test:
    • Hold the eggplant in your palm.
    • Gently press it with your thumb.
    • If the flesh presses in but bounces back, it is ready for harvesting. 
    • If the flesh is hard and does not give, the eggplant is immature and too young to harvest. 
    • If the thumb indentation remains, the eggplant is over mature and may be completely brown inside and bitter with large tough seeds.
    • Eggplants bruise easily so harvest gently. 
    • Always cut the eggplant with the cap and some of the stem attached. 
    • Eggplants do not like cool temperatures so they do not store well.  Harvest and use them immediately for best flavor. 
    • If you must store them, wrap them in plastic or use plastics and store for 1 to 2 days in the refrigerator. 
    • Be careful as it will soon develop soft brown spots and become bitter. 
    • Use them while the stem and cap are still greenish and rather fresh-looking.
  3. Preparation & Serving Eggplant can be baked, grilled, steamed, or sautéed.  It is versatile and works well with tomatoes, onions, garlic and cheese.  The only way eggplant is unacceptable is raw.

To oven fry:   

  • Peel and cut into ¾-inch slices. 
  • Coat slices with seasoned flour or bread crumbs. 
  • Place in oven at 350° for 20 minutes.

To broil or grill: 

  • Cut into ¾-inch slices and brush with margarine or Italian dressing. 
  • Broil or grill for about 5 minutes on each side until eggplant is tender and browned. 
  • Remove from heat and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.

To pan-fry:  

  • Wash and cut into cubes just before cooking as eggplant will discolor quickly. 
  • Coat slices with seasoned flour or bread crumbs. 
  • Place slices in a non-stick skillet coated with vegetable spray. 
  • Gently cook on both sides. 
  • Eggplant will be crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.

To season:  

  • Use marjoram, oregano, allspice, chili powder, curry powder, garlic, or rosemary.

Eggplant Snack Sticks

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • ½ c. Italian bread crumbs
  • ٭ ¼ c. Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg Cooking spray
  • 1 c. meatless spaghetti sauce, warmed

Cut eggplant into slices, ½-inch wide by 6-inches-long. In a shallow bowl, combine the bread crumbs and cheese.  In a separate bowl, lightly beat egg.  Dip eggplant slices into egg and then roll in the bread crumb mixture.  Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with non-stick spray.  Broil on high for 3 minutes.  Remove pan from oven and turn slices over, spraying again with cooking spray.  Return pan to oven and broil 2 minutes.  Serve immediately with sauce.
٭ Substitute ½ c. plain bread crumbs plus 1 tsp. dry Italian seasoning and ½ tsp. garlic powder.

Ratatouille

  • 2 c. cubed, peeled eggplant
  • ½ c. onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil ½ c. green pepper
  • 1 ½ c. or 1 16-oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 c. zucchini sliced
  • ½ tsp. dried basil or 1 ½ tsp. fresh
  • ½ c. mozzarella cheese, shredded

Place eggplant, onion, garlic and oil in a 2-qt. casserole.  Cook in microwave on full power for 5 minutes.  Layer peppers and zucchini over eggplant mixture.  Add seasonings and tomatoes.  Cook, covered on full power for 8-10 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Sprinkle with mozzarella and let stand covered for 5 minutes before serving.

Easy Eggplant Pizzas

Wash and slice a young, tender eggplant into half-inch slices. Arrange slices on a microwave safe dish. Cook at full power about 2 minutes for 4 slices. Spread about 1-2 Tbsp. prepared spaghetti sauce on each slice. Top with a tsp. of shredded mozzarella cheese. Return to microwave just long enough to melt cheese-about 30 seconds. Use as a snack or side dish.

Broiled Eggplant Parmesan

  • 2 medium eggplants with skin, sliced
  • 1-inch thick Pepper to taste
  • Vegetable oil cooking spray
  • 1 jar (16-oz.) marinara (spaghetti) sauce
  • ½ c. fresh basil, chopped or 1/8 c. dried basil, crushed
  • 2 c. mozzarella cheese, part-skim, grated
  • ½ c. Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat broiler. Spray broiler pan with vegetable oil cooking spray. Wash and prepare eggplant. Season eggplant with pepper, spray lightly with vegetable oil cooking spray. Arrange on a broiler pan and broil for 3-5 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Place in a baking dish and set aside. Heat marinara or spaghetti sauce in a saucepan. Add basil, and cook about 1 minute. Spoon sauce over eggplant. Top with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese and broil just until cheese melts.

For more information, contact: Nancy A. Freeman, County Director Harrison County Extension Service nfreeman@ext.msstate.edu or call (228) 865-4227.

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