Eggplant: A Fairy Tale on your Fork

Eggplant types

Our Land’s Sake farmers this week culled dramatic hues of Amethyst, Garnet, and Onyx. Sometimes called Aubergines abroad, we know these beauties as the far less romantic ‘Eggplant.’

Unlike other Nightshade species, eggplant are quite edible, and nutritious too. While no one nutrient dominates its profile, eggplant provide a variety of health-protecting vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants including folate, potassium, and vitamin C. Furthermore, eggplant are high in gut-healthy fiber – about three grams per one cup.

Land’s Sake offers a number of varieties of eggplant including Dancer, Nubia, Barbarella, Black Nadia, Machiaw, and my aesthetic favorites, the petite Fairytale Eggplants. Originating in India, eggplant were subsequently cultivated in China and the Mediterranean, eventually making their way around the world, where new and diverse varieties have been cultivated. Each has its own delicious character; for example, the miniature Fairytale eggplants lack bitterness and offer visual appeal, while tender Barbarellas offer vibrant flavor. The light-purple and white striped Rosa Bianca [not pictured] boast a creamy texture, while the long, skinny Machiaw and Oriental Express [not pictured] varieties are thinner-skinned.

After admiring their beauty, farm stand guests sometimes puzzle over how to prepare eggplant. Together we’ve brainstormed traditional eggplant parmesan, grilled eggplant, and stir-fry recipes, but international inspiration can provide more. With their Indian heritage in mind, I visited Waltham India Market on Moody Street, a spacious haven for exotic produce, hard-to-find Indian, Chinese, and Latin American ingredients, and enticing prepared meals and sweets. I had previously marveled at the market’s wall of spice mixes, and the spicy aromas wafting up from their in-house restaurant compelled me to try my hand at a an eggplant curry.

spice mix

Though my dish would be vegetarian, I selected a Shan Spice Mix for Meat & Vegetable Curry because of its appealing blend of Paprika, Red Chili, Cumin, Carom, Turmeric, Ginger, Coriander, Clove, Cinnamon, and Brown Cardamom. Purchasing the spice mix saved me a great deal of money, measuring, and hoping for the best.

Curry

I loosely followed the directions on the back of the box, but I let my Land’s Sake CSA share take the lead:

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tablespoons high-heat oil
  • 4 Tablespoons (or so, to taste) of Shan Spice Mix for Meat & Vegetable Curry
  • Land’s Sake Produce (be creative!)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 paste tomatoes, diced
  • 1 bunch collard greens, cut into smallish pieces
  • 2 bell or sweet peppers (I chose Carmen, Cubanelle, and Purple Islander), diced
  • Part (or all) of a Serrano pepper (try any of our hot varieties!), finely chopped
  • 1 of each eggplant variety Land’s Sake offers!
  • Canned coconut milk, 1-2 splashes

Steps:

1. Heat the canola oil in a cast-iron pan (low-cost and American made!)

2. Sautee onion until translucent

3. Simmer paste tomatoes

4. Add eggplant and other vegetables

5. Cook until eggplant are tender

6. Add 1-2 splashes of coconut milk

7. Amaze yourself and others with your new-found curry skills!

Enjoy, and hope to see you soon,

Emily Elizabeth, RDN

emily

Posted in Recipes.