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TEXARKANA, Ark. –
The deep, rich purple of an American eggplant with its green-grey cap almost makes
you think of royalty. It is one of the exotic vegetables in taste, appearance, and
history. In fact, it was just 100 years ago that it was considered an ornamental plant
in the U.S. The eggplant is a native of South and Eastern Asia and is a member of
the nightshade family and similar to the potato, tomato, tomatillo and chayote. Although
used as a vegetable; botanically, it is a fruit, a berry to be exact.
Around the fifteenth century it became popular in Mediterranean Europe and has been
established in such classic dishes as ratatouille and moussaka. Today it can be baked,
broiled, boiled, stuffed or used in a variety of casseroles in combination with other
vegetables. Probably one of the most popular is eggplant casserole. Although used
as a meat alternate in many dishes, it is not high in protein.
Eggplant is a good source of fiber and folate and contains potassium. It is low in
calories, with only 30 to 35 for a one cup serving. Fiber helps control cholesterol
and keeps you regular. Potassium helps maintain a healthy blood pressure, and folate
may reduce the risk of heart disease. Eating foods with folate before pregnancy helps
reduce your risk of neural tube defects.
Choose eggplants that feel heavy with smooth, tight, unblemished skin, fresh looking
green stalks and deep purple skin. A medium size eggplant 3 to 4 inches in diameter
is best and should not have brown or blue streaks, or a light color or yellowish skin.
If it is shriveled or flabby, it is often bitter and poor flavor.
Eggplants are easily damaged and should be handled with care. Store as soon as possible
in the vegetable compartment of your refrigerator, since high humidity is preferred
for eggplant storage. If you are not going to store it in the vegetable compartment,
it needs to be wrapped loosely in plastic wrap and used within one week of purchase.
Wash eggplant just before using. To remove dirt, wash vegetables thoroughly in cold
water. Do not use soap, bleach or detergent as they can be absorbed by the eggplant.
Drain and rinse several times with cold water.
To prepare, trim off the ends and peel before preparation, unless it is very young
and tender. Cut the eggplant into thick slices, salt well and stand in a colander
for around half an hour to allow the juices to drain away. Rinse thoroughly and dry
with a kitchen towel. Eggplant goes well with tomatoes, garlic, onions, and cheese,
as well as spices such as marjoram, oregano, allspice, chili powder, garlic or rosemary.
For more information come by the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, Miller
County Extension office in the courthouse, e-mail me at email@example.com or call 870-779-3609.
You can also get great tips on facebook at UAEXMillerCountyFCS/CarlaHaleyHadley, and
twitter at @MillerCountyFCS.
Eggplant Snack Sticks
1 medium eggplant
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs*
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup meatless spaghetti sauce, warmed
Cut eggplant lengthwise into slices, one half inch wide by 6 inches long. In a shallow
bowl, combine the bread crumbs and cheese. In a separate bowl, lightly beat egg. Dip
eggplant slices into egg and then roll in the bread crumb mixture. Arrange in a single
layer on a baking sheet coated with non-stick spray. Spray slices with non-stick spray.
Broil on high for 3 minutes. Remove pan from oven and turn slices over, spraying again
with cooking spray. Return pan to oven and broil 2 minutes. Serve immediately with
*You may substitute 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs plus 1 teaspoon dry Italian seasoning
and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder. Yield: 8 servings Nutritional Analysis: 80 calories,
2.5 g fat, 1 g sat fat, 4 g protein, 30 mg cholesterol, 11 g carbohydrate, 340 mg
sodium, 2 g fiber.
By Carla Haley-Hadley County Extension Agent - FCSThe Cooperative Extension ServiceU of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Carla Haley-Hadley County Extension Agent - FCSU of A Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service400 Laurel Street, Suite 215 Texarkana AR 71854 (870) 779-3609 firstname.lastname@example.org
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative
action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need
materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other
appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay. The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons
regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin,
religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any
other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.