Eggplant’s mild flavor makes it an easy, but often forgotten, addition to meals. It’s commonly shuttled to the sidelines because you might think you don’t know what to do with it. But you do! Or you will if you read on. Let us help! Take a peek into eggplant’s history and (quite tasty, if we do say so ourselves) uses.
Eggplants first appeared 2,000 years ago in India. The ancient Sanskrit language contained more than 30 names for the purple vegetable.
Through global trade, eggplants migrated from Asia and the Middle East to Africa during the Middle Ages, and then to Italy in the 1300s. Although the Europeans appreciated its lush color, shape, and blooms, they didn’t immediately buy into it as a food. They feared – incorrectly – that it was poisonous.
Founding father Thomas Jefferson first brought eggplants to the young United States in the 1800s, but it was Italian and Chinese immigrants who used their culinary skills to truly integrate them into American cuisine.
Did you know…
- Eggplants got their name because the earliest kinds were white, so they looked like eggs hanging from the plant.
- When you’re choosing your eggplant, pick one that’s heavy, firm, and shiny with a green stem. The smaller the eggplant, the less bitter it will be. If you do grab a bitter eggplant, you can always offset the flavor with some salt.
- Eggplant is a great low calorie substitution for higher calorie recipe ingredients. It’s only 20 calories per cup! And that cup of eggplant has 10% of your recommended daily value of manganese, a mineral that keeps your brain, nervous system, and bones healthy.
- Packed with antioxidants, eggplant may help prevent heart disease and cancer. It may also help lower cholesterol.
- The high amount of fiber found in eggplant helps to keep your blood sugar levels steady.
8 ways to eat more eggplant
- Boom, roasted. Cut up eggplant into chunks and roast it for an easy side dish.
- Spin your salad. Sauté or roast, then pop it into salad.
- Meat cute. Grill up some thick chunks like a burger, or fry thinner slices like bacon to make your BLT an ELT.
- Mash up. After cooking the whole eggplant, puree or mash it into a dip. Pair with peppers, carrots, or crackers.
- How saucy! Make roasted or grilled eggplant the centerpiece of your pasta.
- Ice ice baby. Freeze slices so you can easily use them later in soups, sauces, and dips.
- That’s a wrap. Toss grilled or roasted eggplant into a wrap for a new take on lunch.
- Kebob ka-ching. Add cubed eggplant to amp up your kebobs. Try combining it with pineapple, zucchini, salmon, or peaches.
Can’t get enough fruits and veggies? Be sure to check out Harvest of the Month, a downloadable educational program designed to make learning about fruits and veggies easy, tasty, and fun!