Eggplant – Italian, Heirloom

This once maligned veggie fruit, is now a prize ingredient in five-star recipes hailing from China to the Mediterranean.

From green to white, to purple and fuschia graffiti, modern eggplant has come a long way from its ancient reputation as a poisonous wolf in sheep’s clothing from the Nightshade family. Turkish cooks claim an authoritative status on the topic of eggplant, with over 1,000 recipes to choose from. French, Italian and Spanish gourmands are not far off with eggplant dishes known world wide for their rich meaty texture and sweet, subtle flavor. Eggplant can be enjoyed roasted, whole or cubed, grilled, sautéed, or baked but never raw. Traditional preparation calls for cutting, salting, and rinsing pieces or slices before cooking. Food scientists believe that salting collapses air pockets making the flesh less likely to absorb oil when cooked.

Red Tomato varieties include Dancer (Purple), Beatrice (Purple), Italian (Bi-color), Prosperosa (Purple), Khandeshi (Green and White), Purple Rain  (Purple and White), Listada de Gandia (Purple and White), and Ghostbuster (White).

Storage

Eggplants are best when fresh, as aging tends to make for woody flesh and a slightly bitter flavor. Look for eggplants that are firm and heavy with a tight, shiny skin. Avoid any specimens that are wrinkled, bruised or soft. Store eggplants at cool room temperature and avoid refrigeration which can cause browning and changes in the flavor.