The deep, alluring shades of purple make the eggplant a standout in the rainbow of summer vegetables we grow at Bellair. The eggplants soaked up the early heat of summer and have grown wonderfully this season, looking gorgeous in their shiny violet skins. Eggplants are in the Solanaceous (nightshade) family, and have varieties categorized by nationality.
We currently grow Italian, Asian, and Mediterranean eggplants. The Italians’ oval shape is colored dark or light purple with a green calyx (the green top, by the stem). Asian eggplants are smaller, and slightly curved into a long, slender shape. Their skin is a bit lighter than the Italians’, but they have a dark purple calyx. Our Mediterranean variety is the wild child of the bunch, featuring white streaks across its light purple body.
With such a global span, you can imagine the versatility eggplants possess in their cooking potential! Grilled, baked, or sauteed, eggplants are a great nutritional addition to your plate. While high in fiber and potassium, they are low in calories. A common complaint about eggplants is their bitterness, but it’s good to know the flavor is in part due to their chlorogenic acid, an outstanding antioxidant that protects the cells from damage.
Below are a couple links to tasty eggplant recipes that include other vegetables currently available at Bellair (oh, the tomatoes!), and instructions for the recipe from Charlotte Heyerman that we credit for converting many an eggplant-hater on our crew to loving this vegetable for more than its beautiful coloring. Enjoy!
3 Asian eggplant, bias-sliced (thin, diagonal slices)
1 clove of garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup water
red pepper flakes or hot pepper of your choice, to taste
*This recipe is more about method than measurement- adjust all ratios according to your own taste!
- Dry-fry eggplant in batches in a skillet so hot it is almost smoking (this is a good use for your range hood).
- Meanwhile, combine all other ingredients in a bowl and whisk together.
- When all eggplant slices are fried, return them all to the pan and pour the combined sauce over them.
- Cook the eggplant in the rapidly simmering sauce until eggplants are beginning to break down and the sauce is reduced.
- Serve with rice or over julienned cucumbers.