A versatile and functional food, it seems most people either love or hate eggplant. Actually a fruit, eggplant is native to India but is now grown all around the world. These purplish black, glossy fruits have been known to grow to over a foot long in the wild.
Unfortunately, many of us have been turned off by eggplant due to a bad experience. The inner flesh has a distinctive, slightly earthy taste and can become mushy very quickly. The skin is mostly flavorless and tough, so proper preparation and seasoning will make or break an eggplant dish.
However you choose to prepare your aubergine, it’s worth it. Easily grown and inexpensive, eggplant has many health benefits. High in fiber, but low in fat and cholesterol, they are a rich source of vitamin C, K, B6, and also contain thiamine, niacin, magnesium, folic acid, and potassium. Eggplant can aid in digestion, support weight loss, prevent anemia, improve heart health, and even help manage diabetes.
Often eggplant is breaded, fried, and then dipped in sauce or smothered with cheese, masking its subtle taste and jacking up the calorie count. The recipe below is roasted instead of fried, gluten as well as dairy free, and uses a tenderizing method to make the fiber-rich eggplant skin pleasant to eat.
- 1 large eggplant (roughly 1½ lbs.)
- 3 Tbsp. virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup minced onion
- 1 tsp. garlic puree (finely mashed or from a tube)
- 2 cups finely chopped Roma tomatoes (or 14 oz canned tomatoes)
- 2 tsp. dried oregano (or 1 Tbsp. freshly chopped)
- 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup green olives, chopped
- 1/4 cup capers
- 1/4 cup dried currants
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
First remove the stem from the eggplant. Then use a fork to score the skin of the entire fruit. Cut eggplant in half lengthwise and roast it, flesh side down, on a parchment lined baking sheet until it collapses and becomes soft (about 20-30 minutes at 400°). When cool, chop into small bits (or use a food processor).
Heat two tablespoons of oil in a 2-quart sauce pot and sauté the onion until soft, and then stir in all ingredients except vinegar, oil, and basil. Cover and cook for 20 minutes or until soft, stirring often. Remove from heat and stir in vinegar, oil, and basil. Add salt to taste. Cover and chill for at least four hours before serving. Stir well and serve at room temperature or slightly warmed.
*Suggestions: For a fun appetizer, serve eggplant caviar in a martini glass surrounded by thin slices of toasted focaccia, crostini, or crackers. Or try tossing some into your favorite pasta to create a more hearty meal. You can also double the batch and freeze the leftovers for later use.