Aubergine, commonly known as Eggplant in the US, is a fruit of the nightshade family Solanaceae grown for its edible fruit. Yes, I said fruit like the tomato. Aubergine is most commonly purple in color and can be in several shapes including round or long like a cucumber.
Can’t pick your family
Aubergine is a member of the nightshade family was historically thought to be extremely poisonous. This is false, but it does have similar properties to the potato in that it must be cooked before being consumed. The flowers and stalks of the eggplant do contain a natural pesticide called solanine and shouldn’t be eaten.
A meaty little fruit
Aubergine has a meaty flesh that has spongy properties allowing it to absorb oils and flavors. Eggplant is cultivated worldwide but is believed to have originated in India where is still grows wild to this day. The flesh of this fruit is white but will brown quickly after exposure to air – this is due to oxidation.
I ate a lot of Aubergine while on my recent vacation to Greece. A friend saw some of the photos and asked for some additional recipes using this this versatile fruit. Stefanie, I’m happy to oblige. I hope you enjoy some of these recipes, all of which were obtained at foodandwine.com. I have a few more recipes if anyone is interested and I can email them to you. Live, Laugh, Love and eat some Aubergine.
Baba Ghanouj on Pita
Courtesy of Food and Wine
- 2 large eggplants (about 2 Lbs. each), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 3 TBSP olive oil
- ¾ tsp salt
- ½ tsp fresh-ground black pepper
- 8 pitas
- ¼ cup lemon juice (about 1 lemon’s worth)
- 1/3 cup tahini
- ¾ tsp ground cumin
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 small head romaine lettuce (about ¾ Lbs.), cut crosswise into 1-inch strips (about 5 cups)
- 1 plum tomato, halved lengthwise, and cut crosswise into thin strips
- 1 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and sliced thin
- ½ tsp wine vinegar
Heat the oven to 450F. Put the eggplant cubes on a large baking sheet and toss with 2 TBSP of the oil and ¼ tsp each of the salt and pepper. Arrange the cubes in a single layer and roast, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Reduce the oven heat to 350F. Wrap the pitas in aluminum foil, making two packets of four, and warm in the oven for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, put the roasted eggplant, lemon juice, tahini, cumin, garlic, and ¼ tsp salt into a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.
In a medium glass or stainless-steel bowl, combine the lettuce, tomato, and cucumber. Add the vinegar and the remaining TBSP oil and ¼ tsp each of the salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Spread some of the baba ghanouj on each pita and top with the salad.
NOTE: Commonly served as a dip with warm pita bread and an assortment of salads. This version is served with a mixture of romaine, tomato, and cucumber for a light meal.
Roasted Eggplant and Lentil soup
Courtesy of Food and Wine
- One 1 ¼ Lbs. eggplant, quartered lengthwise
- 2 TBSP olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup French green lentils (about 5 ½ ounces)
- 14 large sage leaves
- 2 cups chicken stock or low sodium broth
- 1 cup milk (1% recommended)
- 1 TBSP fresh lemon juice
Preheat oven to 400 F. Place the eggplant quarters on a rimmed baking sheet skin side down. Drizzle with 1 TBSP oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake until the eggplant is very tender, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, cover the lentils with 2 inches of water. Add ½ tsp of salt and 2 sage leaves and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain the lentils in a colander and discard the sage leaves.
Scrape the eggplant flesh into a blender; discard the skin. Add 1 cup of stock and puree until smooth; transfer to a clean saucepan. Add the lentils and the remaining cup of stock to the blender and puree until smooth. Add the lentil puree to the eggplant puree in the saucepan. (Alternatively, you can put all these ingredients into a large saucepan and puree with an immersion blender if you have one)
Stir in the milk and lemon juice into the soup and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper; keep the soup hot over low heat, stirring occasionally.
In a small skillet, heat the remaining 1 TBSP oil. Add the remaining sage leaves and cook over moderate heat until crisp, about 30 seconds per side. Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with fried sage leaves and serve.
Note: The soup can be refrigerated overnight. Reheat it gently. Eggplant is a good source of vitamins A and C and is low calorie. It makes a hearty soup.
You can download the recipes of the week HERE!