Admittedly, it looks like a pod from 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' that could transform you into Prince. But once you dig into this purple bulbous beauty, you will release a food with remarkable health and anti-cancer properties. And even the peel is edible!
First, be advised that not all the members of the Solanum family are edible. One year, for Easter, we bought a little "egg tree" from a discount store -- which we grew and actually managed to produce an egg! But I was so concerned that it could be a poisonous species, so no way was I going to eat it!
This time of year, the familiar edible eggplants are abundant. And you can definitely grow them with no fear of side effects. Consider them to be a "superfood" -- as their extract has even been used to treat skin cancer! As the disclaimer goes, "this statement has not been evaluated by the FDA," but don't let that hold you back. Why not bring their special healing magic into your life?
The remarkable fact is that most healthy foods are very inexpensive -- but just not taken advantage of enough by Americans. We tend to prefer convenience. But hasn't nature made these also quite convenient -- and isn't their packaging preferable to that of a pill?
Eggplants will store in a cool place for three to four days. It also pays to keep them in a plastic bag to preserve moisture. What we do is simply slice them into "mojos," and pop them in the oven, after some strategic seasoning. You can also boil them for five to fifteen minutes, steam for fifteen to twenty, or bake for 25-30 minutes.
If you're not into the "baked mojo" side of the eggplant equation, there are plenty more variations to try. One of the more exotic-sounding is Baba Ghannouj -- but don't let the name scare you off! It was also recently featured in P. Allen Smith's gardening newsletter.
To one large eggplant, add these ingredients: a quarter cup sesame oil, juice of one lemon, one clove garlic, a quarter tsp. cayenne pepper, and a quarter cup chopped fresh parsley. Heat up oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, broiling / baking eggplant for 45 minutes, turning occasionally. Let it cool, peel and toss skin, and chop pulp into chunks. Now puree the eggplant and add your other ingredients -- with a bit more lemon juice if needed. Add a garnish of parsley, and serve with whole wheat bread. Finally, chop into wedges with thin slices of onion (Bermuda ones are ideal).
If that doesn't whet your appetite, you have countless other options: from parmigiana (tantalized with tomatoes and cheese) to ratatouille (which involves lots of other vegetables in addition to tomatoes -- garlic, onion, green peppers, and zucchini). But one of my favorites is the eggplant-buckwheat patties, which includes buckwheat groats (kasha) and lots of spices. In this case, you steam the eggplant and use two separate skillets -- one for butter and onions, and one for frying oil (I prefer extra virgin olive oil, but the book lists corn oil).
You can find further details in Rodale's encyclopedic Basic Natural Foods Cookbook, which is a treasure trove for healthy connoisseurs.
Whatever your preference, you'll be sure to find something extraordinary to delight the most discerning palate. So why not give the kids a dazzling dish to remember?
Now you know just a little bit more about the awesome aubergine!