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How to Cook Eggplant

How to Cook Eggplant


Eggplant is an exotic, meaty-tasting vegetable with a nice chewy texture. Eggplants can be fried, added to casseroles and even stuffed. Eggplant is wonderful in salads, soups, main courses and side dishes. They can be stir-fried, roasted, baked, fried, grilled, stuffed, battered, sautéd, made into a stuffing or a dip. And to top it off, this vegetable is known to lower high cholesterol. You can find it year-round, though in most parts of the country the peak season is late summer. Eggplant is wonderful when mixed with other ingredients as it absorbs the flavors around it.


Choosing and Storing Your Eggplant

When you are purchasing eggplants look for eggplants with smooth, shiny skin that's unwrinkled. The fruit should feel firm and spring back slightly when you touch it. Try to find an eggplant with a stem that looks moist, as if recently cut. Globe eggplant is the most versatile and its larger size enables you to get slices and chunks. It varies in size from 3/4 pound to 1-1/4 pounds, with dark purple skin. A fresh globe eggplant has pale pulp with a few noticeable seeds, which darken and become bitter as the eggplant matures.

Eggplant with parts of dark, hardened pulp with lots of dark seeds will be disappointing and these parts should be removed for the flavor and texture of the finished dish to succeed. Be sure to choose eggplant that is firm, even hard to the touch. There should be no shriveling or soft spots. Also check the green leaves at the stem end; they should be fresh and green, not dried out and brown. You may hear tales of eggplant and bitterness, but bitterness doesn't come from too many seeds or from a certain shape or type; it comes from being over-mature.

You can leave eggplants at room temperature for a day or two but after that, refrigerate them, but not for too long. It's best to use eggplant when it's very fresh, but it will keep for two or three days in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. Odd as it may seem, eggplant is a tropical fruit and suffers chill damage very quickly. It is best to use eggplant immediately or within a few days of purchase. Eggplant is best stored on the counter. Eggplants are fine in the warmth of the kitchen.


Preparing Your Eggplant

There is no end to the ways you can prepare eggplant: Fry it, roast it, grill it, deep-fry it, and steam it. If you're frying eggplant, be sure to salt it first: Cut the eggplant into cubes or slices, salt it liberally on both sides and arrange it in a colander with some kind of weight to press it. Leave it for at least an hour, then rinse and pat it dry.

Many eggplant lovers will serve eggplant as a meal in itself. But if you want to pair it with some great sides here are some that really perk up the palate: garlic bread, bread sticks, salad, pasta, garlic mashed potatoes, broccoli, kabobs with chicken, onions and peppers, Jasmine Rice, anything sour or salty that has a crispy texture.

Here are a couple of our favorite eggplant recipes Eggplant Parmigiana, Roasted Eggplant Dip, Baba Ghanoush, Italian Eggplant Rolls, Ratatouille, Roasted Vegetable Sauce and Penne Pasta and Grilled Vegetable Pasta.


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