Yes, egg­plant’s a fruit, so sa­vor its pos­si­bil­i­ties

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STYLE - Un­corked@thewine­cen­

What’s in sea­son: It’s easy to think of egg­plant as a veg­etable be­cause we find it in so many sa­vory dishes, but egg­plant, also called aubergine, is ac­tu­ally a trop­i­cal fruit of the night­shade fam­ily. Avail­able from early summer through fall, va­ri­eties range from the fa­mil­iar dark globe and slen­der Ja­panese va­ri­eties to mounds of small round Thai and Si­cil­ian (some­times called “graf­fiti”), White Cloud, striped Cal­liope egg­plant and other un­com­mon and heir­loom va­ri­eties. While some of the Asian va­ri­eties are prized for their bit­ter fla­vors, it’s age that causes most egg­plant to be­come bit­ter. When se­lect­ing, look for young, firm fruit that are al­most hard to the touch.

What to cook: Toss thick “steaks” of sliced egg­plant on the grill, stud­ding the slices with wedges of gar­lic and fresh herbs to in­fuse fla­vor as they cook. Slowly roast cubes of the fruit, toss­ing them with aro­matic oil, fresh herbs and crum­bled feta cheese for a Mediter­ranean-in­spired salad. Peel, cube and sim­mer for dips and purees. Puree cooked egg­plant to make a clas­sic baba ghanoush, tape­nade or other dip. You can also salt egg­plant to re­move ex­cess mois­ture and make for a silkier tex­ture be­fore deep-fry­ing.

Fla­vors that play well with egg­plant in­clude toma­toes, bell pep­pers, lemon, zuc­chini, basil, cumin, cin­na­mon, olives, se­same and parme­san. One cup of cooked egg­plant con­tains about 35 calo­ries, 1 gram pro­tein, no fat and 2 grams of fiber.

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