THE eggplant, also known as aubergine, garden egg, guinea squash, melongene and brinjal, usually has an egg-like shape and a vibrant, purple colour.
It is rich in fibre and low in calories, and provides a range of nutrients. It also features in the Mediterranean diet! Although the dark-purple version of eggplants is best known, the shape, size, and colour can vary from small and oblong, to long and thin, and from shades of purple, to white and green.
Fast facts about the eggplant
* It comes in a range of colours, shapes and sizes
*The anthocyanins in eggplants may protect heart health
*Another chemical in eggplants, nasunin, may help improve blood flow to the brain
*Cooking methods include steaming, roasting, boiling, baking or frying, but steaming appears to preserve the antioxidant levels most effectively
*Scientists are looking for ways to maximize the antioxidants in the eggplant, while reducing its bitter flavour.
An eggplant’s slightly-bitter flavour and spongy texture can make it a unique and interesting addition to many dishes.
Some ways to eat an eggplant
Here are some tasty tips:
Eggplant pizza crust: Replace pizza crust with sliced eggplant, and add tomato sauce, cheese and other toppings, for a gluten-free, low-calorie treat.
Eggplant side dish: Sauté or stir-fry chunks of eggplant in olive oil, and serve as a side dish.
Burger garnish: Cut the eggplant lengthwise, into thick slices, and grill them. They can be served on their own, or with a burger.
Oven-baked eggplant fries: Slice the eggplant into strips or wedges, and bake them in the oven for healthy, eggplant fries.
Eggplant pasta topping: Cut the eggplant into thick slices, then bread and bake or sauté them, and add them to a pasta dish. Top with Parmesan cheese, to create Eggplant Parmesan.
Ratatouille: Combine eggplant, onion, garlic, zucchini, peppers and tomatoes, sautéd in a little olive oil, to make a ratatouille.
Veggie lasagne: Use the ratatouille sauce to replace the meat layer in lasagne.
Eggplant stew: Combine with tomatoes, onions, mushrooms and spices, for a fragrant and warming dish.
Baba ghanoush: To make a popular Middle Eastern dip, grill the eggplant in halves for 30-40 minutes, remove the flesh, and blend with yogurt, tahini, lime juice, garlic and spices, to taste. Top with roasted pine nuts, and serve with pitta bread.
Maghlouba: A chicken and aubergine “upside-down” rice dish.
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