Aubergine is a unique food rich in antioxidants. While the bulbous purple shape is the most commonly recognised form of aubergine, it can be slim, egg-shaped and even white in colour. Aubergine is an acquired taste for many people. It's sweet, but not like a bell pepper or sweet corn, and it's meaty, like a Portobello mushroom. Its slight bitter taste is adaptable and takes on the flavour of any accompanying seasonings.
Dieters love aubergine for its low caloric content. A full cup of aubergine contains a scant 27 calories. The preparation method of the vegetable, however, can boost the calorie count significantly in some cases. Aubergine is a very good source of dietary fibre, as well as the essential nutrients potassium, magnesium, and folic acid. Aubergine also contains a phytonutrient called nasunin, which contributes to heart health.
Aubergine can be cooked in a variety of ways, from saut?ing to grilling and baking. Salt slices of aubergine and lay them on a paper towel 30 minutes before cooking. Salting can both draw out excess water and render the vegetable less bitter. The food is very porous and soaks up quite a bit of oil and grease during frying or saut?ing, so use cooking oils sparingly to keep aubergine heart-healthy. Peel the aubergine before cooking for optimum tenderness. The ability of aubergine to meld with many flavours makes the vegetable an ideal addition to almost any flavour combination, including:
- Pasta: saut? chunks of aubergine with garlic and olive oil until tender and toss with rotini or penne
- Parmesan: cover thick slices of aubergine with marinara sauce and cheese and bake
- Mediterranean salad: grill aubergine until tender, slice and toss with red peppers, black olives, and feta cheese
- Barbequed: slice into slabs and barbeque three to four minutes on each side. Serve with a splash of balsamic vinegar
The size of an aubergine depends on the variety. The large oval variety can become quite large (up to 20 centimetres long) and is so big around that you may have difficulty eating an entire aubergine in one sitting. Fresh aubergine can be stored in cling film or an airtight plastic bag in the refrigerator for a day or two, but use the uncooked leftovers as soon as possible to prevent them from becoming bitter. Blanch and freeze washed and peeled slices of uncooked aubergine for later use.
Aubergine contains nicotine, the same addictive substance present in tobacco products. The levels of the chemical are very low, however, and won't hurt you. You would have to consume at least 9 kilograms of aubergine to ingest the same amount of nicotine found in one cigarette.