Although often associated with warmer, more exotic lands, the striking looking aubergine is widely cultivated in Britain. Aubergine (Solanum melongena) is botanically not a vegetable but a fruit, closely related to the tomato. Eggplant, or aubergine, is long prized for its beauty as well as its unique taste and texture. Aubergines are a good source of fibre and folic acid. The colour of the skin is a result of the presence of anthocyanins – compounds with antioxidant properties. In addition to featuring a host of vitamins and minerals, eggplant also contains important phytonutrients, many which have antioxidant activity.Rich in antioxidant properties, dietary fibre, copper, magnesium and vitamins B1 and B6 there is no wonder they are considered a nutritional “treasure”. In Greece is it widely used in many recipes including the famous Greek moussaka.
Aubergines were first cultivated in China in the 5th century BC and by the Middle Ages they were introduced to Africa, Europe and the Middle East. Despite their long history they were used as decorative garden plants rather than food due to their bitter taste. It wasn’t until after the 18th century that new, less bitter varieties were developed and aubergines started becoming a main ingredient in Greek, Italian, French and Turkish cuisine.
Conventional kitchen wisdom is that eggplant skin is inedible—it can be tough on larger ones, but not always. You can decide if you want to peel it off. Other common advice is that its flesh should be salted and allowed to drain away bitterness before cooking. You can have them smoked, roast, grilled or fried. They go perfectly with our 22C extra virgin olive oil.