Eggplant Recipes by our Italian Grandmas
Rossella of the popular food blog “Cooking with Nonna” shares her love of Italian cuisine and “Grandma’s Italian recipes” with the masses. She serves up everything from soups to pasta sauces and even desserts. I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with Eggplant, but Rossella indicated that eggplants have become very common in Italian cuisine and since I love Italian cuisine, I thought I’d give some of the Eggplant Recipes by our Italian Grandmas a try. I’m really, really glad that I did!
Eggplants, or aubergines, are a species of nightshades which are grown for their edible fruit. That’s right. Eggplant is a fruit. In Asia and Africa this fruit is known as brinjal. Other names are melongene, garden egg and guinea squash. Eggplant has been cultivated in Asia since prehistory and was first written about in 544 in an ancient Chinese agricultural treatise. It wasn’t mentioned in English literature until 1597 and was described as a “fruit of the bigness of a cucumber…” While different species produce fruit of different shapes, sizes and color, the most common is purple. Raw, this fruit can have a slightly bitter taste but develops a more tender, rich and complex flavor when cooked. A lot of recipes advise salting, rinsing and draining the sliced fruit to soften it and reduce the amount of fat it can absorb while cooking. While most common in Indian cuisine, it can also be found in popular dishes from France (ratatouille), Turkey and Greece (moussaka) and Italy (pamigiana di melanzane). Generally eggplants are used fresh, in the summer, but they can also be preserved in olive oil so that they can also be used in the winter. There are many ways to cook eggplant, including charring, roasting, stewing and deep-frying, so the possibilities of eggplant are endless. While the eggplant contains low amounts of important vitamins, a study from Brazil found the juice of an eggplant to significantly reduce weight, aortic cholesterol content and plasma cholesterol levels.
So… if you really want to spoil yourself, why not try some of “Nonna’s” eggplant recipes? For instance, Calamari Pasta with Swordfish and Eggplant is a rather decadent dish. Or how about the classic eggplant parmigiana, or stuffed eggplants? Or, if you like Minestrone, but aren’t so sure about eggplant, trying the “Summer Minestrone” recipe is a great way to add some eggplant without the fruit overpowering the dish. If you aren’t sure about eggplants, don’t dive right in to grilled eggplant or eggplant gratinate. Check out the various eggplant recipes offered and pick something that lower in eggplant amount so that you aren’t overwhelmed. It is usually one of those foods that you either love or… don’t love. I was once a non-lover of eggplant but after trying some of these great recipes, I’m converted and I’m confident you will be too.
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