Is eggplant a fruit or a vegetable?
Botanically, eggplant is a berry, just like blueberries, watermelon, or tomatoes.
In botany, a berry is a fruit in which the entire ovary wall ripens into an edible,
relatively soft pericarp.
Culinarily, it’s a vegetable,
as it’s used in main dishes and not eaten for sweetness.
(My recipe can be found at the end of this post, where you will also find some hints about choosing eggplants, how to store them, etc.)
Some of the earliest written evidence for eating eggplant is from the Charaka and Sushruta Samhitas, Ayurvedic texts written about 100 BC that describe the health benefits of eggplant.
Here are some Fun Facts about Eggplant
In China, as part of her “bride price,” a woman must have at least In Turkey, “imam bayeldi,” a tasty treat of stuffed eggplant
12 eggplant recipes prior to her wedding day.
simmered in olive oil is said to have made a religious leader swoon in ecstasy.
When first introduced in Italy, people believed that anyone who ate
the “mad apple” was sure to go insane.
Over 60% of eggplants are produced in China alone.
India, Egypt, Turkey, and Iran were also major producers.
While the fruit is often considered to be a bit odd looking,
the flower portion of the plant is quite beautiful.
Enough "talking!" Let's get to this month's blocks.
The steps to making this block are very simple and straightforward.
Go to Jen's Blog for cut sizes and piecing instructions.
I love it when designers include pressing information. Thanks Jen!!
I love the eggplant fabric in this block. It's fun and colorful!
I decided to use my eggplant fabric for the background because I was afraid that it would be too chopped up it I used it for the pinwheel.
I was excited to find this green in my stash, It's a perfect match to the stems.
Isn't this 6" block adorable? I love the mosaic fabric as the background!
Check out the other bloggers who are making this block.
I just love how the change of fabric makes that blocks look totally different.
So who's hungry?
I was introduced to Stuffed Eggplant about twenty-five years ago by a friend who spent many years in the Middle East. While I liked his version, I wasn't overly thrilled with the lamb that he used. The following recipe is the result of many experiments trying to come up with what my family likes best.
It's not eggplant season, so I don't have a picture to share. 😞
1 large eggplant
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 pound ground sausage (ground beef or lamb can be substituted)
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced red bell pepper
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1 1/4 cups grated Romano cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs (plain or Italian seasoned)
2 small tomatoes, chopped
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees
2. Cut eggplant in half and scoop out center, leaving just enough meat inside the skin so that it holds it shape
3. Chop the scooped out eggplant into small pieces and place in a saucepan. Cover with water and boil until very soft (10 - 15 minutes)
4. In medium saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the ground sausage, salt and pepper, and saute until all the liquid is gone and the sausage is slightly browned. Chop the sausage so there are no large chunks. Set aside.
5. In another pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the the onion, red pepper and garlic. Saute until onion is translucent
6. In a bowl, mix together the cooked eggplant, parsley, basil, 1 cup Romano cheese, 1/4 cup bread crumbs, and the egg.
7. Fill the scooped out eggplant halves with this mixture, divided evenly between the two halves
8. Top with chopped tomatoes, remaining 1/4 cup Romano cheese, and remaining 1/4 cup bread crumbs. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
9. Place stuffed eggplant halves on an oiled baking dish and bake 50 minutes.
10. Let cool for 3 - 5 minutes. Slice widthwise and serve.
Eggplant Buying Tips
This recipe uses a "globe" eggplant, which is sometimes called "American" eggplant. It is purple, large, and pear-shaped. Other eggplant varieties can range from green to white and be striated (lined).
Choose an eggplant that is firm, evenly colored, and has unblemished skin. For this recipe, the eggplant should be fairly heavy, which means there will be plenty of meat.
The caps and stem should be in tact and not soft. (Softness can mean that the eggplant is old or beginning to mold.)
Refrigerate eggplant in a plastic bag for up to five days.
Eggplant can be bitter, so some recipes require you to salt the chopped pieces and let them sit in a colander for up to one hour to remove bitterness. Rinsing the pieces under cold water and then squeeze drying will remove any saltiness. Be sure that the pieces are dried before cooking or there may be too much moisture and the eggplant will get soggy. (Ask me how I know this.)
If you've never tasted eggplant, I hope you take this opportunity to give it a try.
Stop back February 1st for the next Color Challenge Block!