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.
  • 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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