Late summer finds eggplants ready in Michigan gardens and on Michigan farm market stands. Not only does eggplant come in the familiar purple-black globe shape but it comes in a variety of shapes and colors. The internal color of the fruit is always white. All the varieties taste the same and can be prepared in a many ways. Eggplant is sometimes called aubergine in older cookbooks.
Eggplant is often featured in Italian, Chinese and Southern American cooking. It makes a great summer meal addition or even the main course for your Michigan meal too. Eggplant goes well with vegetables like tomatoes, onions and peppers and with spices such as allspice, garlic, oregano, basil, and chile powder. Vegetarians will want to know how to cook eggplant as eggplant’s firm texture is a good meat substitute. This article will give you the basics of preparing fresh eggplant for cooking and some ways to cook it.
Choosing, storing and preparing eggplant
- Look for young tender eggplant fruits with thin skin. The fruit should feel firm, without soft spots or bruises.
- Look for eggplant that has a smooth, round blossom end, (the end opposite the stem). That generally indicates a male fruit, which has fewer seeds. Seeds are responsible for some of eggplants bitterness, especially in older fruits. Female fruits generally have a small concave area on the blossom end.
- Select eggplants with green or purple colored stems, which indicate freshness. Yellowed or brown stems indicate the eggplant was picked many days ago.
- Wash all eggplants well under clean running water just before use. Remove a thin slice off each end of the eggplant.
- You can peel eggplant with a potato peeler or knife if your recipe calls for it or leave the peel on. When grilling or baking large pieces of eggplant the skin is usually left on.
- Salting eggplant before cooking will remove some of the bitterness, especially with older eggplants. To salt eggplant cut it in the pieces called for in your recipe. Lightly oil a cookie sheet. Liberally sprinkle both sides of each eggplant piece with a non-iodized salt. Let the pieces sit for 15 minutes, then brush off the salt and pat dry with clean paper towels. The pieces will not be salty tasting.
- Store your fresh eggplant unwashed, loosely wrapped in plastic, in the crisper bin of the refrigerator. Try not to store it more than 3 days.
- Freeze blanched, sliced or chunked eggplant in freezer bags or containers for up to six months.
Some eggplant recipes
Below you’ll find some ways to cook and serve eggplant that will make you and eggplant fan in no time.
Grilled Eggplant and Portabella Burgers
This is an excellent sandwich to serve vegetarians.
- 4 slices of eggplant 1½” thick,(3.8 cm) unpeeled and salted (see prep above)
- 2 large portabella mushrooms, gills scraped off
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1/4 tsp. chili powder
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tbsp. melted butter
- 4 hamburger buns
- 2 tbsp mayo or salad dressing
- 4 thick slices mozzarella cheese
- 1 large beefsteak type tomato, sliced into 4 rounds
- Lettuce or spinach leaves, washed and trimmed
- Blend together the chili powder, salt, pepper and garlic.
- Brush both sides of the eggplant slices and the mushrooms with olive oil with a basting brush. Lay them on a plate.
- Sprinkle the spice mix on both sides of the oiled eggplant and mushrooms.
- Place the oiled mushroom and eggplant slices on a medium hot grill.
- Cook eggplant slices about 3 minutes on each side. The eggplant will be soft and smooth. Remove the eggplant slices with a spatula onto a plate.
- Cook the portabella slices about 4 minutes on each side. Remove them with a spatula to a plate.
- Peel the hot skin off the eggplant slices carefully.
- Cut each mushroom into 2 flat slices when they are cool enough to handle.
- Brush the underside of each bun half with melted butter using a basting brush. Place the buttered side on the grill and lightly toast the buns.
- Assemble “burgers” by brushing mayo or salad dressing on both sides of each bun, adding a mushroom slice, then an eggplant slice, then a slice of mozzarella cheese, then a slice of tomato and some lettuce to the bottom of each bun and finally adding the bun top.
Southern Style Fried Eggplant
The secret to this is to get everything prepared, get the frying pan hot and fry each eggplant slice as soon as it is dipped in the batter. This is a dish you are standing by to eat as it comes from the fryer.
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup panko or Italian bread crumbs
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. onion powder
- 1/2 tsp. pepper
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 2 eggs, beaten with 1 tbsp. cold water
- 1 young eggplant, peeled, sliced thinly, salted, and tossed with lemon juice
- Oil for frying
- Blend together the flour, breadcrumbs, salt, onion powder, pepper and garlic powder in a large bowl.
- Place the eggs in another bowl.
- Put a 1/4” of frying oil in a frying pan and heat to 350 degrees F.
- Using tongs, dip each piece of eggplant in this order. First dip the eggplant slice into the egg. Next dip the eggplant slice into the flour-breadcrumb mixture. Then dip the eggplant slice into the egg mixture again.
- Using tongs, immediately add each eggplant slice to the frying oil after the last dip.
- Let the eggplant slice cook until lightly brown on one side and then flip it and let the other side brown. Fry only a few slices at a time and pay careful attention to them.
- Remove the fried eggplant slices with a slotted spatula to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Eat the fried slices as soon as they are cool enough to eat.
With a name like eggplant what better meal to serve eggplant with than breakfast? This is kind of a stir-fry-omelet combination.
- 1/2 lb. of ground sausage
- 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup sweet red pepper, finely chopped
- 1½ cup eggplant, peeled and chopped in small pieces
- 6 large eggs
- 2 tbsp. cream or milk
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
- 1tbsp. butter or margarine
- Place the sausage, onion, and pepper in a large frying pan on low heat and lightly brown the sausage.
- Add the eggplant pieces to the frying pan and cook until softened, stirring with a spatula occasionally.
- When the sausage is cooked and the eggplant, pepper and onion are softened, turn off the heat.
- Using a fork beat together the eggs and cream or milk in a large bowl.
- Blend the salt, pepper and garlic powder into the egg-cream mixture.
- Turn the heat on under the frying pan to low.
- Add the butter or margarine to the pan with the sausage and vegetables and let it melt.
- Slowly pour the egg mixture into the frying pan.
- Cook and stir with the spatula until the eggs are yellow and fluffy and most of the moisture is gone. Serve warm.
Here are some additional articles you may want to read on this site.
For more cooking articles click on the authors name above.
To comment on this article please email KimWillis151@gmail.com