Recipe Friday: The Purple Power of Eggplant!

September 13, 2013

Throughout its history, the poor eggplant has been the subject of a lot of inaccurate information and myth.

Throughout its history, the poor eggplant has been the subject of a lot of inaccurate information and myth. In the Middle Ages, due to its relation to other nightshade plants, eggplant was deemed to be poisonous and cause convulsions, insanity or even death. This, of course, is not true — in fact, eggplant is delicious and packed with a number of nutrients, including fiber, B vitamins and potassium. Then, there’s that common misconception that eggplants are vegetables. Eggplants come from a flowering plant, and are, therefore, actually fruit.

Here’s one thing that’s true about the eggplant: it’s the perfect produce to complement any meal during this transitional time between summer and fall. It’s in season throughout September in many states, including Illinois, which means it’s abundant, fresh and budget-friendly. Plus, it’s a versatile fruit: its meaty texture makes it a vegetarian-friendly option for BBQs and sandwiches, it makes a great foundation for a dip (as in baba ghanouj), and it makes a leaner, more nutritious alternative to other starches when making crisps, hashes or fries. We’ve included a couple of delicious snack ideas below, but when it comes to eggplants, the possibilities are endless.

Spicy Eggplant Salsa (via Erin Landers)

You’ll Need:

  • 1/2 eggplant, sliced lengthwise into 3/4 inch slices
  • olive oil
  • 1/4 onion, diced
  • 1/2 (hot) red pepper with seeds removed, thinly sliced
  • 2 1/2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tomato, sliced
  • salt
  • 1/2 basil sprig, thinly sliced

How to Make It:

  1. Cook eggplant in pan in olive oil on high until brown and soft. Remove from pan and dry with paper towel. Set aside.
  2. Cook onion and red pepper in the same pan.
  3. Add garlic, tomato paste, and paprika; stir well.
  4. Add tomatoes and salt and cook, covered, for an additional 10 minutes.
  5. Return eggplant to the pan. Add basil, stir gently, and remove from heat. Allow to cool.
  6. Serve at room temperature with veggies, tortilla chips or whatever snackables you like.
  7. Enjoy!

Baked Eggplant Fries (via SHAPE Magazine)

You’ll Need:

  • 1 eggplant, cut into strips
  • 1/3 c. plain yogurt (soy yogurt if preferred)
  • 1 tbsp. dried parsley
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups whole-wheat seasoned breadcrumbs

How to Make It:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Prepare and line two large baking shees.
  2. Cut the top and bottom off the eggplant. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and then into quarters. Next, cut the eggplant quarters into slices roughly 1/4 in. thick.
  3. Cut the eggplant slices into strips to your desired French fry-esque thickness.
  4. Combine yogurt, parsley, garlic powder, paprika, ground cumin, onion powder, lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar in a large bowl. Toss eggplant fries in yogurt mixture, coating evenly.
  5. Place breadcrumbs on a plate and lightly coat eggplant fries with breadcrumbs.
  6. Spread out evenly on trays, making sure they don’t touch. Bake in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Turn halfway during baking to brown evenly.
  7. Serve immediately in whichever way you like. You can eat them plain, or mix Greek yogurt, lemon zest and dill for a tasty dipping sauce, or drizzle a little honey and add some mint sprigs for a contemporary presentation of a popular Mediterranean dish.
  8. Enjoy!