Eggplants of all shapes and sizes are best fresh from the garden

This Seattle Times article has some good information on growing and cooking eggplant. I’ve really grown to enjoy eggplant, though I don’t think the articles assertion that eggplant “is often used as the centerpiece of a vegetarian meal” is necessarily correct. Whatever the case, there’s no doubt that eggplant parmesan is a much—for lack of a better term—”friendlier” dish than its veal counterpart.

I’ve heard a lot about how eggplant has almost no nutritional value (aside from vitamin K), but looking at the nutrition facts for eggplant, it looks to be a decent enough source of a number of vitamins and minerals as well as fiber. However, this is raw eggplant (and note the numbers refer to an entire medium eggplant, probably enough for 3-4 servings). Perhaps the cooked version loses a lot of the nutritional value. In any case, a serving of eggplant only has 25 calories, so clearly it’s a good vegetable to cook with occasionally for the calorie-conscious.

22 Responses to “Eggplants”

  1. Jen

    I also have to disagree that eggplant “is often used as the centerpiece of a vegetarian meal”?? I’ve never had eggplant parmesan. I’ve never purchased an eggplant. And I’ve only eaten it a few times in my entire life. Although I have been considering trying it again… thanks for the link!

  2. Anonymous

    That sounds kinda outdated. I think I read somewhere about eggplant being popular in U.S. vegetarian dishes and recipes back in the 1970s.

  3. Kerry

    I don’t think eggplant does too well as the centerpiece of a vegetarian meal since it doesn’t offer much in the way of protein, but it is definitely very tasty when prepared right. My favorite ways to prepare eggplant is stuffed (where you can fill in all nutritional needs not in the eggplant itself) and eggplant-almond enchiladas, courtesy of a Moosewood cookbook from 1977. Thanks for the nutritional value, which is what led me to this site.

  4. Anonymous

    I’ve been a vegan for 12 years and have had eggplant once. Here’s my husband’s fabulous recipe for two that made me decide to have it more often:

    2 eggplants cut in half long ways filled with the following.
    In a saucepan add and heat:
    tomato paste
    diced onion
    diced red bell pepper
    sliced mushrooms
    sugar (tubinado)

    Fill eggplant halves with the cooked mixture and bake at 375 degrees @ 20 minutes. DELICIOUS!!!!!!

  5. Anonymous

    I wrote the previous recipe, went home, made it, and determined it was wrong. My husband had to explain some things to me about eggplant. First off, you cut the eggplants in half longways and then make several slices almost all the way through the width. Then bake them at 350 for 30 minutes while you’re simmering the sauce. Then you add the sauce and bake for another 30 minutes. This time I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as when he made it. I don’t think I’ll be having eggplant again any time soon!

  6. Linda

    Okay, whether there is a positive nutrional value for COOKED eggplant, I must come to it’s defense – – It is awesome sliced thick and grilled, brushed with EV olive oil and seasoned to taste (afterall, it doesn’t have a truly distinct strong flavor) – we’ve even diced and sauteed (seasoned) and served on pizza with feta and oil curred olives. Never mind, you have to be there – we love it and had hoped there was decent info on the cooked nutrional value. We will continue to eat anyway – – and search for answers!

  7. Ron

    I read these articles and am almost in disbelief.My Italian friends would choke if they were told that there were people who did not eat eggplant regularly!!

    In South Florida, my wife and I go to Italian restaurants at least once a week and every one of them features Eggplant Parmasian. I also make it myself.

    In Chinese restaurants, most good ones feature eggplant with black bean sauce, with or without sauteed shrimp.

    I have always found eggplant to be a great low-calory addition to any meal. Three cheers for the eggplant.

  8. Sharyl

    Eggplant Wraps
    My fiance and I are non- meat eaters and I am allergic to ALL addatives and preservatives and first want to thank all that post here with truly wholesome and healthy meal ideas. I would just like to add my latest discovery to the wonderful ideas and recipes thus far.
    Now this idea can be done either on the grill or fried in a small amount of sunflower or extra virgin olive oil.
    -long wise, thinly slice the eggplant
    (approx 1/8″)
    -brush with oil for bbq, or if frying add 2 tbsps oil to heated pan
    -grill or fry each side 2 to 4 mins on medium heat (depending on how browned you prefer)
    -eggplant slices become soft and now are ready to use as wraps for what ever your taste buds desire.
    We have had them with roasted red and or green peppers, sauted onions and mushrooms, spinach/onion/feta with basil, and baked home fries with rosemary.
    In other words, if you like it and it will fit, wrap it and enjoy!!!
    As I said before, my diet restricions are rediculous but eggplant has become a trusted and tasty staple in an otherwise extremely limited menu. I hope if you try this you enjoy it as much as my fiance and I do.
    Viva La Eggplant

  9. Katherine

    I wondered why, when I turned about 40 and started quaffing large amounts of red wine, I also developed a penchant for eggplant. It was unknown in my background, and while it is beautiful, it hardly has anything much to recommend it in terms of flavour. My middle eastern friends couldn’t provide any nutritional value for it either. I think I finally found a possible explanation. Another woman of similar years agreed with the sudden red wine habit, and we both lived primarily on cheese and crackers, but she said her mid-life craving was sesame. I read that all these things have tyrosine, associated with production of seratonin. So, when our biology leaves our mood a little low, we middle aged women instinctively seek out the natural medicines. What do you think? Here’s a link to a nutritional profile of eggplant:

  10. Rubi

    I love eggplant. Most recently I’ve been making a roasted eggplant spread.

    Take an eggplant and cut it into cubes (No need to peel)
    Put it in a bowl with 2 coarsley chopped red bell peppers, one cubed red onion, and two minced garlic cloves.
    Toss the mixture with a couple of tbsp. of olive oil.
    Season it to taste before spreading it on a baking sheet and roasting it in the oven at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes.
    Once the mixture is roasted, place it in a food processor with a steel blade and add a couple tsp. of tomato paste.
    Let the processor run for about 30 seconds. And then it’s done.
    It’s best when eaten with tortilla strips.

  11. tj

    So I had never cooked eggplant before I met my husband and we grew some in our backyard. I like recipes that are quick and easy to follow! Hope someone enjoys this as much as we did.
    I decided to make it like this:

    slice up eggplant into skinny round slices
    salt and let stand 10 min.
    sprinkle generously with basil and garlic powder
    pour over slices gazebo room lite greek dressing
    spray cookie sheet and lay eggplant slices in single layer
    cook at 400 for 10 minutes then flip and cook another 10
    sprinkle with shredded cheese, cheddar or moz. whatever you like or is on hand

  12. Katherine P.

    I’m 46, born in Chicago to E. European parents, and was first introduced to egglplants in France at age 17 on a high school trip and have loved them since. When it comes to cuisine, Americans–vegetarians or not–have a lot to learn about how delicious eggplants can be. They’re often featured at Mediterranean/Middle Eastern restaurants. Ratatouille is fabulous, along with eggplant parmesan, moussaka, babaganoush, etc. The cuisine of Provence (in France) is full of creative eggplant and vegetable dishes. Chinese eggplant with garlic is fabulous, too! I agree with the gentleman with Italian friends–Europeans would be amazed at the bad rap eggplants get in (perhaps un-metropolitan) American kitchens. In San Francisco we can find eggplant dishes in MANY restaurants, thank goodness!

  13. P. Petrovic

    Whoa! Not to flog a you-know-what here but the thing about eggplant as a centerpiece, in my unfortunate experience, IS true. I think it might be the #2 all-time most common “Vegetarian Dish” at restaurants (behind grilled portabella – Ugh!) Not that either is ever well-prepared or interesting. I think it is just a cop-out dish that uncreative chefs use to have something “veg friendly” on the menu (part of the greater bias against us!). Usually both dishes are either mushy or dry, tasteless or oversalty. When I see either on a menu I usually default to the old cliched standby “I’ll just have a salad.” WHICH IS SO SAD, because as Katherine P. said there is so much that can be done with eggplant! I just made some delicious Baba Ghanouj out of Turkish Eggplants we grew this year. My favorite eggplant thing recently is at a cute restaurant in Buffalo, NY called “Off the Wall” that has some really good Eggplant “Buffalo Wings.” Holler if you hear me!

  14. cannibal vegetarian

    I don’t know about vitamins and minerals, but eggplant is supposed to contain a
    good deal of the antioxidant anthocyanin in its skin.

  15. Adam

    Eggplant has cured over 70,000 cases of cancer in the U.K.

    High Pulp Orange Juice
    Chipotle or Habanera Peppers

    Sauté Portobello’s in a skillet, whole mushrooms in a little oil over medium-high heat, stirring or turning until tender, about 5 to 6 minutes. Other ingredients such as onions, peppers, and garlic, can be cooked along with the mushrooms. The longer you cook it the meatier (firmer textured) the mushroom gets.

    Slice the Eggplant into 1/3 inch to 3/4 inch slices and mix the Orange Juice & Chipotle or Habanera Peppers. Peppers can be cooked whole, crushed or in powder .The O.J. should cover the top of the Eggplant, Low-Med heat until mostly pulp is left.

    Stack the Eggplant on the bottom with the Portobello and maybe some melted Swiss on top; you can use a pita in place of a burger bun.

    You can add sautéed onions and green peppers if you like, and mix plain yogurt with spicy mustard as a mayo substitute.

    I hope you enjoy, let me know if you have any clever variations on this, the OJ & eggplant can be prepared as a side dish for any meal.

  16. Mikey

    Sounds like P. Petrovic is going to the wrong dining establishments!

    “No nutritional value” is a rather biased statement. Just read the nutritional analysis of eggplant and clearly see vitimins, minerals, and other good-for-us stuff! Eggplant may not be a “super-food”, but think how boorish life would be if all we ate were these handfull of “super-foods” that pack a nutritional whallop into every bite.

    The idea that proper cooking destroys “all nutritional value” is also a pile of crock (though improper cooking can certainly destroy much of the food value). Give me a properly prepared eggplant any day as part of a well-balanced diet and I guarantee you that my body is going to benefit.

    The problem with people who make statements like “Eggplant has no nutritional value” is that they are all about extreemes — and they want to convince others to be the same. Or they are repeating something they heard and never verified for themselves.

  17. nicole

    I am in the dominican republic, here eggplant is very popular, I have to disagree with those of you saying its not very tasty…it is! Here they even make eggplant spread to eat with crackers or toasted bread. Grilled with a little olive oil, parmessan, thinly sliced and baked, fried…I love it! If anybody is interested in recipes write me to my email!

  18. Hannie

    Eggplant has a nice mild flavor that can easily be enhanced with simple ingredients already available in your kitchen. I suspect that when people complain that they don’t like eggplant their reaction is focused on the mouthfeel more than the flavor. Eggplant does not have to be intimidating.

    Slice eggplant, yellow squash, and zucchini into 3/8″ to 1/2″ rounds. Toss with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sea salt, and pepper and grill over wood briquets when the grill is at medium heat. Turn slices every few minutes until the surfaces are browned. The color will be very uneven and some skin singe is likely. If the color rises before the meat is all the way cooked, plate the grill sheet in the oven at 365 F for 10 minutes to finish the veggie out. Eat hot with marinara or refrigerate and toss into a green salad, or pack your veggies away to eat at your desk the next day when you are reading food blogs instead of taking a formal lunch break.

  19. Bean

    Try Capanota. Google it and look for a recipe that suits your ability and philosophy.

  20. Bean

    Sorry, correct spelling is caponata. A Sicilian favorite with capers, olives and pine nuts served as a cool or room temp. spread on crusty bread. Quite delicious and festive. Have fun!

  21. Pintocalle1

    I would have to disagree. I own a restaurant and eggplant is the top vegetarian seller. Customers love it. Grilled is very popular.

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