A member of the nightshade family, eggplant is related to the potato and tomato. Eggplant is actually a fruit, specifically a berry. Although the most common type is large and dark purple, eggplant comes in many sizes (2-12 inches), shapes (oblong to round), and colors (white to green to purple). The first varieties of eggplant known to English-speaking people bore colorful eggshaped fruits, thus the name eggplant. At one time eggplant was discounted as poisonous and dubbed the "mala insane" (raging apple) because it was believed to cause insanity.
Season: September - October
How to select: Look for smooth, shiney skin with a firm but slightly springy texture. Avoid soft or brown spots.
How to store: Eggplant becomes bitter with age. Store in a cool dry place and use within a day or two of purchase. To store longer, place in the refrigerator to for several days.
How to prepare: bake, braise, boil, fry, grill, roast, saute, stew. When young, the skin is delicious and edible; older eggplants should be peeled. The flesh discolors quickly, cut just before using. When cutting or chopping it, use a stainless-steel knife, since carbon-steel utensils can cause discoloration and a bitter aftertaste.
Matches well with: aioli, anchovies, bacon, balsamic vinegar, basil, bechamel sauce, brad crumbs, capers, cream, cumin, garlic, goat cheese, Gruyere, ham, lamb, lemon, mint, Mozzarella, mushrooms olive oil, olives, onions, oregano, Parmesan, parsley, peppers, pesto, pine nuts, rice, Ricotta, rosemary, shallots, thyme, tomatoes, walnuts, yogurt, zucchini