EGGPLANT (Aubergine)

Earthy with a hint of bitterness, eggplant is one of those veggies that people either love or hate.

eggplantEggplant is a member of the nightshade family and is actually considered a fruit. It appears to have originated in Asia and upon domestication has made its way around the world. There are many varieties of eggplant ranging in size, shape and color.
The uncooked fruit is quite bitter and often requires presoaking in salt to decrease the bitterness and better prepare the fruit for culinary endeavors. The seeds when raw can be quite toxic and even can have a hallucinogenic quality. After soaking the fruit in salt, it can then be rinsed and used in a variety of ways. There are a wide variety of cultures that feature eggplant as an ingredient in signature meals. It can be found most frequently in Middle Eastern, Italian, Asian, and Spanish.

imambayildiFrom a culinary perspective, it is the variety and size of the eggplant that will dictate whether or not you will need to soak in salt first. Once this has been decided and the fruit has been adequately prepared it can then be used in a variety of ways. One of my favorites, is to smoke or roast the whole fruit, including the skin and then blend them with a variety of appropriate spices, turning them into Baba Ghanoush; a deliciously complex middle eastern “dip”.

From a health perspective, eggplant has often gotten a bad reputation because it is part of the nightshade family. Yes, as a raw fruit it can be toxic to the body and can contribute to increased histamines or inflammation in the body. When prepared appropriately it contains a decent amount of macro and micronutrients; manganese, magnesium, Vitamin B and copper, along with protein and fiber. What the eggplant lacks in micronutrients it makes up for in phytonutrients; not the least of which is anthocyanin; a chemical compound that helps reduce oxidative stress and systemic inflammation.