It may surprise you to learn that eggplant is not what it seems: this native Indian plant is actually a fruit! Eggplant has had many uses throughout history; for example, women in ancient China created a dye out of eggplant skins to polish their teeth to a shiny gray. As more than just a tooth dye, however, this fruit is used in recipes all over the world. Here are four delicious examples.
Eggplant Chocolate Chip Muffins
Eggplant gets a sweet twist with this healthy muffin recipe. It is sure to please both health nuts and chocolate fanatics.
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt2 eggs
1 stick of butter, melted
¾ cup Agave nectar (can be substituted with maple syrup or honey)
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups peeled and chopped eggplant (equivalent of about 2 small eggplants)
1¼ cups chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a muffin pan.
- In a bowl, combine all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, and salt.
- In a separate bowl, mix the eggs, butter, Agave nectar, and vanilla.
- Pour the second mixture into the first and mix them together well. Fold in the eggplant and the chocolate chips.
- Spoon the mixture into the muffin pan. Bake for 25 minutes.
Yield: 12 muffins
Total time: 35 minutes
This is a great, healthy meal to try if you’re looking for a little spice in your life. A scrumptious, traditional Thai stir-fry, it can be prepared in a wok and served with chopsticks or simply with a frying pan and fork.
6 cloves garlic, minced
1–3 red Thai chilies, to taste
1 eggplant, chopped into medium pieces
2–3 tbsp oil
½ cup fresh basil
2 tbsp soy saucewater for stir-frying
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp brown sugar1 tsp cornstarch mixed with 2 tbsp water
- Prepare the sauce by mixing together all sauce ingredients except cornstarch/water mixture. Set aside.
- Heat 2–3 tbsp of oil in a wok or a large frying pan. Add the onion, half of the garlic, chilies, and eggplant. Stir-fry for 5 minutes.
- Add up to ¼ cup water when the frying pan becomes dry. Add 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and continue stir-frying for 5 more minutes or until the eggplant is soft. Add the remaining garlic and sauce mixture and stir-fry until the sauce completely covers the eggplant.
- Add the cornstarch and water mixture. Stir well until the sauce thickens, then remove from heat. Add the basil (reserve enough for garnish), stirring briefly.
- Serve with rice and sprinkle the remaining basil over the top.
Yield: 4 servings
Total time: 30 minutes
Lasagne alle Melanzane
Italians are renowned for using fresh produce in their cuisine, and eggplant is no exception. The popular Italian dish gets a fresh twist in this delicious recipe when pasta is replaced with slices of roasted eggplant. Buon appetito!
1 large eggplant, sliced lengthwise ½-inch thick (about 6 slices)
salt and pepper1 cup thinly sliced cremini mushrooms
2 garlic cloves, minced1 tbsp thyme
1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
2 large eggs
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese2 tbsp oregano
2 cups marinara/pasta sauce
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Arrange sliced eggplant in a single layer on a baking sheet. Coat both sides in oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast the eggplant for about 25 minutes, or until it is soft and golden, flipping the slices halfway through.
- While the eggplant slices are roasting, sauté the sliced mushrooms in oil until they’re soft. Add the minced garlic and thyme and cook together.
- Once the eggplant is roasted, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.
- In a bowl, mix the ricotta cheese, eggs, ½ cup of Parmesan cheese, oregano, mushrooms, 2 teaspoons of salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
- Spread 1 cup of marinara on the bottom of an 8-by-8 baking dish. Lay 3 slices of eggplant in the dish, followed by the ricotta mixture. Lay the remaining 3 slices of eggplant in the dish and then add the other cup of marinara. Top with the remaining ½ cup of Parmesan.
- Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Yield: 6–8 servings
Total time: 60 minutes
Baba Ganoush is a hummus-like dish that comes from the Middle East but is served around the world; in France it’s also known as caviar d’aubergines. Made with eggplant, sesame paste, garlic, and spices, it’s a simple but delicious recipe. Serve it with toasted bread or pita triangles.
3 tbsp tahini (sesame paste)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled
juice from 1 lemon
¾ tsp salt
¼ tsp cumin
pinch of red chili powder (to garnish)
3 tbsp chopped parsley (to garnish)
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Slice the eggplants in half and brush the cut side with oil. Place the halved eggplants cut-side down on a foil-lined baking sheet and prick them all over with a fork.
- Place the eggplants into the oven for 35 minutes or until very soft. Pull them out and then let cool for at least 5 minutes.
- Scrape out the eggplant’s fruit and place it in a blender with the tahini, oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and cumin. Purée until smooth.
- Top with chopped parsley, chili powder, and a drizzle of olive oil.
Yield: 4 cups
Total time: 45 minutes
Photo credits (from top):
Juan Carlos Madrigal
Courtesy of Food Thinkers