Eggplants are not vegetables. They are a type of fruit of the nightshade family like tomatoes and zucchini.
They grow in different shapes and colors in more than 15 varieties. They range from white to different tones of purple, to green, and yellow.
Their flesh is meaty and can be used as a substitute in some dishes that call for meat.
Myths and old wives’ tales about eggplants
There are many culinary myths and old wives’ tales when it comes to preparing eggplants. Sometimes these myths keep these vegetables from reaching their potential in various preparations.
Let’s see some of them:
It is not a big deal to eat eggplants with or without the skin. The skin does not change the flavor when cooking. It is a matter of texture preference. The skin will give a firmer texture to any dish.
Salting and bitterness
Some types of eggplants have a bitter taste. There is a general belief that this taste can be eliminated or reduced with salt. Before cooking, eggplants must be soaked in salted water for 30 minutes. Then, they have to be rinsed and cooked.
The truth is that the process of salting water does not change eggplants’ flavor or reduce their bitterness.
Eggplants are a type of nightshade fruit. There is a group of this family called “deadly nightshade” that are indeed an inedible weed, but eggplants are not part of it.
They are, on the contrary, a nutritious ingredient with multiple benefits to the body. They contain manganese, potassium, copper, vitamins B, folate, magnesium, tryptophan, among other minerals and vitamins. They are also low in cholesterol, fat, and sodium.
How to cook eggplants?
With all this clarification, it is time to make the most of eggplants with the following cooking ideas.
Eggplants are the perfect ingredient for stuffing. Their shape, skin, and size are suitable for making a hearty stuffed dish.
The traditional dish of stuffed eggplants is the delicious stuffed eggplants with Parmesan cheese. Check the detailed recipe at http://minuterice.com/recipes/rice-stuffed-eggplant-parmesan/. Another popular recipe is Italian stuffed eggplant with mozzarella and tomato.
The basic process for making these dishes is simple and easy:
- Cut eggplants lengthwise.
Hollow each half using a knife and fork.
Use the flesh in the filling.
Top with cheese and bake.
A creative way to prepare eggplants is to puree their pulp. It is a type of dish that is great to use as a spread for dipping. This puree has a fresh and light taste that balances sweet and smoky flavor.
Eggplant puree is also known as the famous Baba Ganoush. It can be combined with yogurt to make a creamier dip.
They can be accompanied with pita bread, sandwiches, or salty cookies. They also can be used with lamb and bulgur salad.
Pureeing eggplant is simple and rapid. For making this smoked puree, follow these steps:
- Roast eggplants.
Cut into halves and let them cool.
Take out the flesh and combine with garlic, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt in a food processor.
Baking is a healthy way of cooking eggplants. Baked eggplants have juicy flesh with a caramelized skin.
Eggplants can be baked with just salt and pepper and become a delicious side dish, or be included in other mouthwatering preparations like lasagna and Moussaka.
To bake eggplants at the perfection follow these steps:
- Cut the eggplants.
Place them in a baking tray.
Sprinkle salt, pepper, and olive oil.
Bake until they get a brown color.
Even though frying is not the healthiest cooking method, it can be denied that fried eggplants are irresistible.
Frying eggplants result in fleshy and tender flesh with a crunchy skin. They work perfectly as a side dish. But, they cannot be fried directly, because they can absorb too much oil in the process and get too soggy.
To prevent this while frying, eggplants must be coated with a mixture of eggs and bread crumbs, flour or panko.
The most popular dishes are fried eggplant slices and tomato and peppers fried eggplants.
The best frying process of eggplants includes:
Season with salt and pepper.
Let the slices dry a couple of minutes over a kitchen paper towel.
Cover them with eggs and then with bread crumbs or flour.
Fry them in a skillet with enough hot oil.