Easy Dinners with Eggplant

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Healthy eggplant recipes for a quick weeknight dinner.

If you lived in Italy before the 15th century, chances are you wouldn’t have been eating eggplant. Legend has it that the Italians feared eating eggplant would make them crazy, hence their name for it: melanzana, or “mad apples.” Today we see eggplant in a different light. This plump and glossy member of the potato family (which also includes bell peppers, tomatoes and tomatillos) has plenty of merits worth mentioning. One cup of cooked eggplant has a mere 35 calories and contains soluble fiber, the kind that may help lower blood cholesterol levels. The deep purple skin contains anthocyanins and proanthocyanins, antioxidants that may play a role in heart health and improve brain function.

But really, we love eggplant’s meaty texture and ability to soak up flavors. We grill eggplant and red onion and toss them with lemon and olive oil for a tangy accompaniment to grilled lamb chops. Sautéed eggplant with fresh herbs and diced tomatoes captures the essence of late summer and makes a simple yet satisfying sauce for angel hair pasta. Our Grilled Eggplant & Portobello Sandwich will satisfy vegetarians and burger lovers alike. Cooking with this versatile vegetable will make you crazy, all right...crazy for more eggplant.

Eggplant Basics When buying eggplant, also known as aubergine, look for dark-purple skin and an even, smooth egg-like or globe shape. In general, look for medium-sized fruits that weigh about a pound—small, firm, shiny eggplants may be underdeveloped, and large, overripe ones can become foamy and bitter. Don't confuse underripe standard eggplants with Italian "baby" ones, however—these should be clearly labeled and are slightly sweeter and more tender than their larger counterparts. Other varieties of eggplant include the thinner, elongated light- to dark-violet Japanese and Chinese eggplants, several varieties of striped eggplants of varying shades, and white eggplants, which may give an indication of where the name originated.