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Eggplants

The properties of eggplants

Eggplants are associated with the Solanaceae family. They produce fruits from a tiny plant that is rarely taller than one metre. Although it doesn’t require much care during cultivation, this kind of vegetable detests extremes in temperature and prefers well-watered soil. Lastly, they do well in sunlight, though it is ideal for them to thrive in a well-sheltered area.

Eggplants are among the most consumed vegetables; they are good, light, and nutritious. They represent an exceptional source of potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium. The supply of vitamins is also excellent, in particular vitamins C and K. They also stimulate the production of bile and help keep cholesterol under control. Above all, they are rich in anthocyanins, antioxidants that are good for the heart and help prevent cancer. The calorie intake is really low, equal to 18 kcal per 100 grammes.

The best-known varieties

Eggplants have been cultivated for millennia, so the abundance of varieties is not surprising. They are distinguished by taste, colour, and flavour. Here are the most consumed ones:

  • Round-oval (or Messina violet): It is the most widespread; its colour ranges from purple to black, and its pulp is rather spongy.
  • Long: The shape is elongated, and the colour is dark. The flavour is quite strong and spicy. It tastes excellent grilled or fried.
  • Purple: It is similar to the round oval. It is characterised by its light purple colour and the limited quantity of seeds.
  • Streaked: It is characterised by its flavour, which is distinctly sweet. It is also often used in pastry making.
  • Baby: Similar to the long eggplant, but it’s sweeter in flavour.
  • White: It is characterised by its light colour, an intense (but not spicy) flavour, and a very compact pulp.
  • Perline: It is a finely shaped, elongated vegetable. It is a hybrid between several eggplant varieties, although it has less pulp and seeds than the regular kinds.

Eggplants in the kitchen

Among all the vegetables, eggplants are the most adaptable; in fact, they can be prepared in a wide variety of ways and are a common ingredient in many dishes. Instead of being made into croquettes or eggplant meatballs, they can be grilled or even served with other veggies like tomatoes.

And what about eggplant parmigiana,which is currently well-known throughout the world? This vegetable can also be used as a seasoning for pasta rather than rice. The same goes for savoury pies and soups. Below you will find a list of the tastiest recipes, traditional and otherwise.

Many people ask me this question, and I often ask myself: What are the best alternatives to stuffed eggplants? Using more or less the same ingredients, we can prepare many different dishes and enjoy constantly varied tastes and nutritional benefits that shouldn’t be undervalued! My favourite thing to do is to serve excellent wholemeal or gluten-free pasta with eggplant meatballs.

The lactose-free eggplant parmigiana is one of my family’s most loved dishes, not to mention the delicious eggplant and tomato flans! In short, we are dealing with a vegetable that allows us to unleash our creativity and imagination in the kitchen! So what eggplant dish have you decided to prepare?

The most creative recipes

Eggplant Cannelloni: It is a lighter and more creative version of the classic cannelloni. The filling is not provided by minced meat but by a delicious mix of grilled eggplants and scamorza.

Chicken curry with eggplants and peas: A very tasty second course that plays with rustic and exotic notes. The eggplants are cooked in meat broth and inserted into the pan-fried chicken before creamy coconut milk is added.

Eggplant rolls with chickpea hummus and avocado: This is a more interesting version of the classic eggplant roll. The vegetable is enriched with chickpea hummus, which adds full-bodied aromas, while the avocado gives an exotic touch with a thick consistency.

Swordfish with eggplant: This is a simple fish main course with a Mediterranean character. The eggplants come in at the end of the preparation, enriching the swordfish cooked on a sauté of onions and tomatoes.

Eggplant Caprese. This is an artistic and appetising version of the Caprese salad. In this recipe, the eggplants, duly grilled, form the top layer, completing everything with the tomatoes and mozzarella.

The benefits of this truly special vegetable

Though I have already discussed the nutritional advantages of eggplants, it would be helpful to provide a brief overview in order to fully appreciate the remarkable qualities of this crop.

It strengthens the immune system, as demonstrated by the important doses of vitamin C it contains.

It helps prevent cancer thanks to its high amount of anthocyanins (antioxidants).

It helps with weight loss. Eggplant is low in calories and gives an excellent sense of satiety; therefore, it is widely used in weight-loss diets.

They speed up the metabolism. This is a helpful feature for people who wish to reduce their weight. Above all, the availability of B vitamins is the key point of reference.

Protects the cardiovascular system. This capability is attributed to the potassium supply, which is rare in vegetables. Potassium also lowers blood pressure.

It helps with digestion. Eggplants are usually very rich in fibre, which encourages intestinal transit and contributes to the resolution of mild constipation.

Contraindications of eggplants

Since eggplants are nutritious vegetables, there aren’t any significant contraindications to eating them. Actually, there are none at all if allergy cases are taken out of the picture. Thus, the allergy is not limited to eggplants; rather, it affects all foods classified as solanaceae, which include tomatoes, sweet peppers, and chilli peppers. The symptoms are essentially gastrointestinal: meteorism, diarrhoea, nausea, and cramps.

As regards solanine, a substance abundant in this type of vegetable, no toxic effects have been reported in healthy individuals, as long as the vegetable is well cooked. For this reason, it is advisable to always check the cooking method.

Talking about its interaction with drugs, there are no problems whatsoever. There has never been any evidence, not even an empirical study, between the use of eggplants and the efficacy of pharmacological treatments.