The deep purple, pear shaped, and generally odd looking eggplant can be used in a variety of ways, and it is oh so good for you. But what the heck do you do with it?
Eggplants come in a few varieties. The most familiar is the globe eggplant, the large oval purple ones that you find in most grocery stores. You can also find smaller globes known as Italian eggplants, even smaller, more oblong Japanese eggplants, and lighter purple and striped Asian varieties. When shopping for eggplants look for firm, unbruised skin, and select those that are heavy for their size. It means they have fewer seeds. Store them in a paper bag in the refrigerator.Eggplants can be baked in the oven just as you'd bake a potato. This is the way to make chopped eggplant salads and a fat free way to cook eggplant for pasta sauces and soups. Prick with a fork in a few places, place on a baking sheet, and bake in a 450° oven, turning occasionally until the eggplants are soft all over. After you take them out, peel them, drain the flesh in a colander and discard any large seed pockets.You can also peel and slice eggplant and sautee them in olive oil. Add as little oil as possible and use a non-stick pan. Eggplants are cooked when the flesh is translucent. Any white areas means that part of the eggplant is raw and needs more cooking, and probably a bit more oil. You can also slice them and arrange the pieces on an oiled baking sheet, brush with oil and bake, turning the slices and brushing them with oil one more time until they are cooked through. The texture can take some getting used to, but when done right, this vegetable is quite a treat!