Friday, July 1, 2011

Farm Fresh: The Eggplant!

Welcome to my Summertime Foodie Friday series: Farm Fresh!

I decided to take advantage of the abundance of the Summer growing season by featuring a new unusual vegetable each week. These vegetables may be ones you've had before, or ones you've heard of but never dared to taste. Or, they may be ones you had no idea how to prepare to eat. I'll include a bit of information about the vegetable, a simple recipe, and a linky so you can share your favorite recipe featuring the vegetable of the week. The series will run through the end of August, and I'll publish a post every week or two.

If there's a vegetable you'd like to see featured in the series, or if you have a preparation tip to add, please let me know in the comments. And don't forget to link up your eggplant recipes below!

Eggplant (also called aubergine, melongene, brinjal, or guinea squash) is a relative of the tomato and potato, and is native to India. While the purple variety is the most commonly seen in the United States, eggplant comes in many different colors, including white, yellow, and orange.

As far as health benefits go, eggplant may help to reduce blood cholesterol levels. It is a good source of folic acid and potassium, and it helps block the formation of harmful free radicals. Another interesting fact about eggplant is that it is richer in nicotine than any other edible plant. But don't worry, you'd have to consume 20lbs of eggplant to ingest the amount of nicotine contained in just one cigarette. (From Wikipedia's Eggplant article.)

I really like eggplant, and I should definitely eat it more often. It's good in curries, and also lots of Italian dishes. I particularly like it in ratatouille, which is an extremely nutritious (and beautiful!) dish, and a wonderful way to use both eggplant and Summer squashes like zucchini.

As the most requested vegetable for this series so far, I felt a little more pressure this week when it came to choosing a simple recipe to feature the delicious eggplant. (Plus, those requesting it had specifically asked that I not make eggplant Parmesan.) I decided to make (eggplant Parmesan inspired) eggplant fries based on this recipe. I'm a fan of all kinds of fries, really, so I was excited to try out this dish. I bet you'd even be able to get your kid to try them!

You will need:

1-2 eggplants, peeled and sliced into ¾" wide sticks (you know, fries)
1 cup milk
2 eggs
¾ cup all-purpose flour (I used gluten-free flour.)
¾ cup cornmeal
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon Italian herbs
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Oil for frying
  • Salt the surfaces of your eggplant sticks. Set them in a colander for 30 minutes. (As far as I can tell, the purpose of this steps is to remove a lot of the liquid from the eggplant, so that it will cook more quickly and be easier to eat.)
  • Rinse them thoroughly with water and pat dry with paper towels. (A note about the seeds: They're not really that edible—not easy to chew, though they're not bad for you—so discard any that fall off in the cutting process. But don't worry about doing a very thorough job; the crunchiness of the batter in this recipe makes the seeds nearly undetectable in the final product.)
  • Combine the milk and eggs in one bowl, and the flour, cornmeal, cheese, herbs, garlic powder and salt in another bowl.
  • Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Dredge eggplant fries first in the egg/milk mixture, then in the flour/cornmeal/etc. mixture, then place them in the oil. (I found this fairly easy to do several sticks at once, which helped the cooking time to be more even for the whole batch.)
  • Fry for 3 minutes or so, or until the fries are golden brown:
  • Eat hot! (You may want to add a little more salt to the outside of the fries as well.)
Daniel was already asleep when I made these, but the verdict from Jaymz was that they're "damn tasty!" He also remarked (not surprisingly) that they'd be even better dipped in marinara sauce. I'm going to make another batch soon to feed to Daniel, and I'm sure he'll like them, too!

How do you like to eat eggplant?

Linked up at Seasonal Sunday at Real Sustenance.

4 comments:

  1. Oh, that's a serious gobble it all up food for me! When my mom would made eggplant like that (she sliced in circles), my 5 sisters and I would be eating it as fast as she could fry it. Yum.
    I LOVE this series. I would buy this book if you ever made one out of it.
    I love to make Ratatouille with eggplant, onion, bell pepper and tomatos. Easy, healthy and low calorie.

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  2. Yes! I have used a recipe really similar to this and they are soooo tasty.
    My first to eggplant plants were dug out of the garden by squirrels this year - disappointing - but I replanted and I'm hoping for some good eggplants this year. I could eat eggplant nearly every day. They are so versatile.

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  3. Love eggplant!! Submitted a southern eggplant recipe I love making over and over! It is a tough veggie to cook with, but glad to see you find a delectable way to have the whole family enjoy it :)

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  4. OMG those fries look awesome! I love fried zucchini, too. I'd bet they'd be awesome dipped in marinara OR ranch! Yum!

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