What is it?
- although we may think of it as a vegetable, did you know that it’s actually a berry?
- though the dark oval shaped variety is the most common in the UK, aubergines grow in a variety of sizes and colours.
- synonymous with Mediterranean cooking-they originated in India and were imported into Europe in the Middle Ages.
- they are a vital component of some of the best known Mediterranean dishes such as ratatouille ( in France) pisto (Spain) caponata (Italy) and moussaka (Greece).
What’s so great about them?
- high fibre and potassium rich, the darker the aubergine skin, the more anti-oxidants it contains.
- dieter’s friend as they are low calorie but filling (18cals /100g)
Buying guide: Aubergines do not have a long shelf life so check out the following tips to ensure that you don’t accidentally buy the ones that have sat around too long on the shelf !
- they should be firm with a glossy, smooth exterior.
- reject if skin has dark brown patches- as this is sure sign they’re not fresh!
- best time to buy aubergines is summer when they are in season-June to September.
- Aubergines should be eaten quite soon after buying, otherwise they can become mushy and hard to digest.
- The good news is that they can be frozen-so no waste!
- To freeze: blanch (see cooking tips section) in salted boiling water for about 4 minutes before draining.
Sliced aubergines are sometimes called “steaks” because they have an almost fleshy texture. This makes them a great adddition in all vegetable recipes.
- Although it is customary in the UK to salt aubergines prior to cooking them, it is not necessary to do so if they are very fresh.
- Place in a colander for about half an hour then rinse with water.
- Dab dry with kitchen paper before cooking.
5 minute recipes:
- Delicious sliced lengthways (about 1 cm thick) and drizzled with olive oil before grilling under conventional grill or on a griddle.
- You can also add grated cheese before grilling.
Did you know?
- that hundreds of years ago eating aubergines was considered dangerous as it would make you go mad? This was because when they were first imported into England, the Italian word “melanzana” was wrongly interpretted as “mala insana”. In Italian apple is “mela” and insane is “insano”-so you can see where the confusion started!
- but the Spaniards had a different view. They called them “love apples” as they considered them aphrodisiacs.