In season | Eggplant

By
The Editor
Added
21 February, 2014

The unsung hero of the nightshade family, eggplant is found in cuisines the world over. From Sicily to South East Asia, the Middle East to the Mediterranean, many signature dishes feature the versatile aubergine. We sing the praises of the humble eggplant.

In Australia, eggplant is available in endless varieties and colours, such as the classic egg-shaped purple eggplant, the long and skinny Japanese eggplants often used in Asian cooking, purple and white striped Sicilian eggplants, and green pea-sized eggplants that provide a burst of bitterness in Thai curries. You can slow-cook them in a sweet and fragrant stew or grill them over an open flame to bring out their smoky flavour

A native of the Indian subcontinent, eggplants have been grown throughout Asia and Africa for centuries, and are widely grown in Europe (where they are called aubergines). They are a great natural source of fibre, vitamin B1 and potassium.

A good eggplant is heavy and firm to the touch, it should bounce back quickly when pressed. The colour should be vivid and the skin glossy, not only will they look beautiful when served – they will taste better as well. When it comes to selecting eggplants, bigger is not better, as the larger ones often have more seeds and therefore more bitterness.

To combat a bitter taste, you can always tenderise your eggplant in advance. Chop your eggplant as the recipe requires, sprinkle liberally with salt and leave for 30 minutes – they should begin to ‘sweat’ – then rinse before use.

When cooked eggplants have a soft and spongy texture so they are perfect for soaking up rich and delicate flavours, and the glossy purple colour means they provide a beautiful splash of colour to any plate. They taste great with tomatoes, capsicum, legumes, haloumi, fetta and lemon.

If you are just getting into eggplants try them as a condiment like relish or jam, or try an eggplant and walnut dip



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