Considered a vegetable by most, eggplant is botanically a fruit and a member of the nightshade family. Eggplant comes in many sizes and colors, ranging from purple to green, white, lavander and pink. Eggplant is a popular ingredient in a variety of cultures. Italians often use it sliced and baked, grilled or fried. In the middle east it is the key ingredient of a dip called Baba Ganouj.
Eggplant typically has a tough outer skin and a soft spongelike flesh. It has a mild flavor that can be a bit peppery. Before cooking, it is often sliced and salted which removes water, this helps reduce the amount of oil absorbed when frying.
Different varieties of the plant produce fruit of different size, shape and color, especially purple, green, or white. There are even orange varieties.The fruit flesh is smooth; as in the related tomato, the numerous seeds are soft and edible along with the rest of the fruit. The thin skin is also edible, so peeling is not required.
Selecting and Buying
Preparation and Use
It may also be roasted in its skin until charred, so that the pulp can be removed and blended with other ingredients such as lemon, tahini, and garlic.
Conserving and Storing
Eggplants are very perishable and become bitter with age. They should be stored in a cool, dry place and used within a day or two of purchase. To store in the refrigerator, place in a plastic bag. If you plan to cook it the same day you buy it, leave it out at room temperature.