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Eggplant 101 & {Meatless} Greek Eggplant “Meatballs”

Eggplant 101: an introduction to eggplant including types, how to choose eggplant, nutrition information and more ... plus a recipe for Greek eggplant "meatballs"

Eggplant 101 & Meatless Greek Eggplant “Meatballs”

Eggplant 101: an introduction to eggplant together with varieties, how to decide on eggplant, vitamin info and extra ... plus a recipe for Greek eggplant "meatballs"

I feel eggplant is a misunderstood veggie that may be a bit intimidating to some individuals. So let’s speak just a little about this queen of veggies (properly, technically, she’s a fruit) – the magnificent eggplant. It’s one in every of my favourite greens, so I hope that will help you really feel a bit of extra snug with this unique, lovely veggie.

What’s eggplant?

Just like the tomatillo, eggplant is a member of the nightshade household and it’s technically a fruit, though we deal with it like a vegetable. Eggplant are often purple or lavender in shade (though there are additionally white eggplant in addition to inexperienced and orange). Different names for eggplant are aubergine, backyard egg, guinea squash, melongene, and brinjal, however within the US, we often name them eggplant.

The eggplant you see within the grocery shops are sometimes globe eggplant. They’ve a darkish purple colour and are rectangular formed. My mother typically grows Japanese eggplant (you’ll see them within the eggplant meatball photograph under), that are lengthy and thin with a darkish purple, virtually black shade. She additionally grows Rosa Bianca eggplant which develop fairly giant and are a reasonably white blushed with lavender. Typically Mother additionally grows white eggplant (formed like a globe eggplant however all white) and fairy story eggplant, that are fairly a bit smaller, very tender and candy and a stunning stripey purple and white (pictured above within the Eggplant 101 photograph).

Rosa Bianca Eggplant - an Italian eggplant with a mild sweet flavor and creamy texture

There are sooo many extra sorts of eggplant, although! Right here’s an awesome useful resource for figuring out eggplants with notes on style, form and shade.

What does eggplant style like?

Eggplant has lengthy been prized for its magnificence, distinctive style and texture. Individuals usually describe the eggplant as having a pleasantly bitter style and spongy texture. Recent eggplant, although, is never bitter and I personally discover it has a barely buttery style. In lots of recipes, eggplant is a complementary ingredient that balances the encompassing flavors of the opposite components. When fried or boiled, eggplant can get mushy and creamy, so it’s an excellent addition to a sauce, soup or dip (and it’s fabulous used as a gluten-free thickening agent), however roasting, grilling or breading eggplant slices dries out the surface fringe of the eggplant, giving it a pleasant crunch or chewy exterior which contrasts superbly with the creamy inside.

The place did eggplant come from?

Based on WH Meals: “The traditional ancestors of eggplant grew wild in India and have been first cultivated in China within the fifth century B.C. Eggplant was launched to Africa earlier than the Center Ages after which into Italy, the nation with which it has lengthy been related, within the 14th century. It subsequently unfold all through Europe and the Center East and, centuries later, was delivered to the Western Hemisphere by European explorers. As we speak, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, China and Japan are the main growers of eggplant.

For hundreds of years after its introduction into Europe, eggplant was used extra as an ornamental backyard plant than as a meals. Not till new varieties have been developed within the 18th century, did eggplant lose its bitter style and bitter popularity, and take its now esteemed place within the cuisines of many European nations, together with Italy, Greece, Turkey and France.”

Why eat eggplant?

A cup of cooked eggplant has solely 35 energy and it’s loaded with fiber and vitamins. Medical Information Right now says eggplant has anti-inflammatory properties plus it’s good on your coronary heart, helps decrease ldl cholesterol, forestall most cancers, increase your mind energy, handle weight, and assist shield your liver. Eggplant pores and skin is wealthy in antioxidants, fiber, potassium, and magnesium, so in the event you can keep away from peeling your eggplant, eat that pretty pores and skin.

Apart from the well being advantages, eggplants are a scrumptious addition to soups, sauces, dips, curries, salads and casseroles and they’re hearty in order that they make a wonderful meat alternative. The creamy texture of eggplant contrasts superbly with just a little crunch, so when breaded and baked, eggplant can develop into sort of addictive (for my part, anyway). Grilled eggplant “steaks” additionally make a pleasant gluten free “pizza crust”. And, in fact, eggplant are a key ingredient in Ratatouille. Eggplant is certainly a sponge and loves to take in oil and taste, so that you need to restrict the quantity of oil you employ with eggplant, however go forward and spice it as much as your coronary heart’s content material!

How do I select an excellent eggplant?

Search for shiny pores and skin that has no bruises or dimples. The colour ought to be vibrant and wealthy. Whenever you maintain the eggplant in your hand, it ought to really feel agency and heavy for its measurement. Gently push a finger into the aspect of the eggplant; it ought to give barely. Keep away from rock onerous and squishy eggplants. Retailer the eggplant in your crisper drawer of the fridge for two – four days. Don’t minimize eggplant earlier than you retailer it because it turns brown as soon as reduce.

Do I’ve to salt my eggplant?

No, you often don’t! Trendy eggplant, when recent, are not often bitter. In case you select an excellent eggplant within the peak of its season (August or September), you’ll be able to safely skip the “salting” step.

Can I freeze eggplant?

Sure, you possibly can freeze eggplant. Most say to prepare dinner it first and the Kitchn says the BEST option to freeze eggplant is to roast it earlier than you freeze it. Personally, I wish to make it into eggplant fries, moussaka or bread it for eggplant parmesan earlier than freezing it as a result of then I can pull it out and re-heat it and it jogs my memory of that lovely harvest season once I was virtually swimming in eggplant.

I promised you a recipe too! Right here’s my newest eggplant creation:

Meatless Greek Eggplant “Meatballs” with Greek Tomato Sauce & Feta

Meaty eggplant is grilled entire, seasoned with Greek seasoning and combined with breadcrumbs, onion, garlic, cheese and egg to make little balls of deliciousness that go completely with the Greek tomato sauce … they could even trick your style buds into believing you’re consuming meat!

(Eggplant “meatballs” tailored from Skinnytaste. Sauce tailored from The Hungry Bites.)

I had a great deal of recent eggplant from my mother’s backyard, and eggplant is a a lot meatier tasting vegetable than zucchini, so after I made the zucchini meatballs, I actually needed to attempt making eggplant meatballs. However I’d additionally simply made some fabulous Greek seasoning and people yummy eggplant Gyros, so I nonetheless had Greek meals on my thoughts … and meatless Greek meatballs sounded actually good to me. So I made my “meatballs” with just a little Greek seasoning.

There was slightly little bit of de ja vu … identical to once I made the zucchini meatballs, I tasted the eggplant meatballs once they got here out of the oven with out the sauce, and I actually was NOT in love with them. They have been … not meatballs. However then I added the sauce and slightly sprinkle of feta cheese and oh man, I simply fell in love. My style buds have been once more reeling with delight and completely satisfied that they have been consuming meat, regardless that my mind was telling them “this is NOT meat!” Apparently my style buds are usually not good at listening to my mind. Or maybe they’re merely simply fooled. However there’s one factor I’ve to say about my style buds: they undoubtedly have good style! Identical to this recipe. Oh man it’s good!

Meatless Greek Eggplant "Meatballs" ~ a scrumptious plant-based, low carb meal from Luxurious Spoonfuls

The Greeks would serve these “meatballs” with rice, however I liked consuming them identical to this, bathing within the pretty tomato sauce. Greeks would additionally form their meatballs into rectangular soccer shapes, and though it’s exhausting to inform with that pretty purple sauce throughout them, I did attempt to mimic the rectangular form with my “meatballs”.

Greek Eggplant “Meatballs” with Greek Tomato Sauce

Greek Eggplant


    For the meatless “meatballs”:

  • three/four lb. of grilled eggplant, peeled & chopped (weighed after peeling)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/four cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled & chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups of breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup shredded Italian and/or Swiss cheese (I used Asiago & Swiss)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 – three teaspoons of Greek seasoning (recipe right here – or use retailer purchased)
  • 1/four – half teaspoon cayenne
  • half teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Purple Robin Seasoning (or salt) & freshly floor pepper, to style
  • For the sauce:

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/four teaspoon cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 small onion, peeled & chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled & chopped
  • half cup pink wine
  • 2 cups pureed tomatoes
  • half cup grilled Greek eggplant, chopped (optionally available)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to style) & freshly floor pepper, to style
  • For the highest: crumbled feta cheese (greatest if marinated – recipe right here) & recent oregano leaves


  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Prick eggplant(s) with a fork and grill till gentle. Take away from grill and let cool. The flesh ought to slip proper out of the pores and skin. Put the eggplant in a mini meals processor and pulse a number of occasions.
  3. In a small frying pan, warmth the oil, then saute the onion and garlic within the oil till tender.
  4. In a medium mixing bowl, stir collectively the eggplant, onion combination, breadcrumbs, cheese, egg, and seasonings. Type into balls, then bake at 375 F. for 20 – 25 minutes or till agency and browned.
  5. Whereas the “meatballs” are baking, make the sauce: In a medium saucepan over medium warmth, add the olive oil, cumin, bay leaf and cinnamon stick. Prepare dinner and swirl for a minute or so to toast the spices, then add the onion and garlic and saute till tender.
  6. Stir within the pink wine and prepare dinner till the liquid is nearly utterly evaporated, then add the tomatoes, eggplant, sugar, salt & pepper. Deliver to a boil, then scale back warmth and simmer for about 15 minutes. If desired, puree the sauce in a blender or meals processor.



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Meatless Greek Eggplant "Meatballs" ~ a scrumptious plant-based, low carb meal from Luxurious Spoonfuls

Able to deal with some eggplant recipes?

In the event you’re new to eggplant, I hope I’ve piqued your curiosity and also you’re able to attempt some eggplant recipes. Listed here are a number of recipes from me and my foodie good friend Robin from Whisk and Dine that will help you start (or proceed) having fun with eggplant. Most of those recipes freeze superbly for later.

Need extra? Right here’s an Eggplant Pinterest Board loaded with eggplant recipes. And Huffington Submit has 33 Eggplant Recipes That’ll Make Summer time Extra Scrumptious. Additionally, epicurious shared 51 Wonderful Eggplant Recipes.

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