Recently three of our local farmers have brought Kentucky Proud eggplant to the Hart County Farmers Market to sell. These wre all locally grown, beautiful purple skinned vegetables with green stems and they catch everyone’s eye.
However, none of the sellers really know how to cook them and practically all of the buyers have never cooked them and ask how does one prepare them? Some people just fry them up as they would prepare fried green tomatoes. Some people make roasted eggplant soup out of them. Eggplant can be cooked in a variety of ways and most eggplants are used in ethnic recipes.
Eggplants, long prized for its deeply purple, glossy beauty as well as its unique taste and texture, are now available at our Hart County Farmers Market, but they are at their very best from August through October when they are in season. Eggplant by itself is low in calories and it contains a lot of antioxidants while being an excellent source of digestion-supportive dietary fiber and bone-building manganese. It is very good source of enzyme-catalyzing molybdenum and heart-healthy potassium and a good source of bone-building vitamin K, magnesium as well as heart-healthy copper, vitamin C, vitamin B6, folate, and niacin.
It contains phytonutrients such as nasunin and chlorogenic acid and also contains phytonutrients such as nasunin and chlorogenic acid.
Eggplants belong to the nightshade family of vegetables, which also includes tomatoes, sweet peppers and potatoes. They grow in a manner much like tomatoes, hanging from the vines of a plant that grows several feet in height. While the different varieties do range slightly in taste and texture, one can generally describe the eggplant as having a pleasantly bitter taste and spongy texture. Here are a couple of my recipes.
Cheese Filled Eggplant with Tomato Pepper Sauce is a great way to prepare them. Just remember to use small eggplants and make sure your slices are cut thin. Eggplant slices are broiled then rolled up with a ricotta cheese and Parmesan cheese filling. Feel free to use your favorite fresh tomato sauce or a purchased sauce in place of the tomato and roasted red pepper sauce.
Another favorite is Eggplant Parmesan and besides needing 3 eggplant, peeled and thinly sliced you will need 2 eggs, beaten, 4 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs, 6 cups spaghetti sauce, divided, 1 (16 ounce) package mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided, 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided, 1/2 teaspoon dried basil. Next preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Dip eggplant slices in egg, then in bread crumbs. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 5 minutes on each side. In a 9x13 inch baking dish spread spaghetti sauce to cover the bottom. Place a layer of eggplant slices in the sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Repeat with remaining ingredients, ending with the cheeses. Sprinkle basil on top. Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until golden brown.
One can even freeze eggplant. Just wash and peel; slice, dice or cut in strips, depending on how you plan to use it. There's no need to peel very young eggplant. Steam to blanch. Steam 2 minutes for diced eggplant and thin slices and up to 5 minutes for thick slices. Have a cold water/lemon juice mixture ready (1 teaspoon lemon juice to each quart of water). Chill eggplants in the cold water-lemon juice mixture; drain and pat dry and pack leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. 2 medium eggplants = approximately 2 pint frozen. The next time you are at the Hart County Farmers Market feel free to purchase some delicious and healthy Kentucky Proud eggplant and go home and experiment with them.
May the Creative Force be With You...