When I see an eggplant, like a pavlovian response, I can immediately smell them roasting in my mom’s kitchen. I used to hate that smell. It was so powerful it took over the whole house. But as my taste buds expanded, and I started to LOVE eggplants, I’ve grown to love that smell in my own kitchen.
Eggplants were a staple in my childhood home. My husband’s too. In Israel, depending on what countries your grandparents were from, the eggplant dish had its own flavor. Mostly they were fried, also roasted. My mother-in-law makes them in tomato sauce. My grandmothers had their own twist. As Israel continues to develop its cuisine, the eggplant has evolved and continued to be a front runner in many dishes. (P.S. there is a GREAT documentary about Israeli cuisine on netflix called In Search of Israeli Cuisine).
A member of the nightshade group (like tomatoes, potatoes and peppers), the eggplant is full of nutrition. Its combination of vitamins K and C, fiber and B6 make the eggplant a good source for preventing heart disease and blood clots. The antioxidants in eggplants helps your body lower bad cholesterol and fight cancer cells. But perhaps the most surprising (to me) was the combination of phenolic compounds, iron, magnesium and vitamin K in eggplants has been linked to improving bone density, and reducing signs of osteoporosis.
With so many varieties and sizes, today’s eggplants are less bitter, so the process of salting them before cooking them, is not required anymore. Over the years I’ve tried to redevelop and come to terms with the unfried eggplant (it was hard). But I’ve learned that there are so many other ways to enjoy this purple fruit (FRUIT! Did you know it was a fruit?- a berry actually). Still my favorite is the one that brings up that childhood smell in my kitchen. Recipe below.
Eggplant in the Oven
(THE recipe that brings back childhood memories)
NOTE: you can also leave it in the peel once out of the oven, and just peel back the top layer… and go to step 7