Eggplants are a member of the nightshade family, like tomatoes and potatoes. Eggplant comes in many varieties, although the dark purple Italian eggplants are the most common. We grow several types of eggplants including long, slender Asian eggplants, and globe-like Italian eggplants. Often they can be used interchangeably, but in general long, pale purple Asian eggplants are used in stir-fries, and the darker oval eggplants lend themselves well to pastas, and grilled dishes. Older eggplants can be bitter, and should be salted before use to draw out the moisture. (see below) Asian eggplants are the long, slender variety that come in varying shades of purple. This variety of eggplants has thinner skin and less seeds, making them less bitter and more delicate tasting. Asian eggplants do not need to be peeled, and you can skip salting as you would a larger Italian variety. Leave the skin on and Asian eggplants can be sliced and diced for recipes.
Japanese Eggplant, Rosa Bianca – Italian Eggplant (see above)
Eggplant can be stored at room temperature on the counter if it will be used quickly. Otherwise store your eggplant in the refrigerator, the longer it stores the more chance it has of becoming bitter. Asian eggplants store a little longer than the large, dark purple variety.
Wash thoroughly. Remove stem of eggplant. Asian eggplants and eggplants that have not been stored long usually do not require sweating, but if your eggplant has been sitting awhile and you want to be on the safe side, sweat eggplant before using. Slice eggplants into inch thick rounds. Generously sprinkle with sea salt and let sit until water forms on surface, about 15 minutes. Rinse and dry eggplant, in or spin a salad spinner to dry. Dice for recipes or grill. Eggplant pairs well with peanut sauce, and is excellent in Asian stir-fries. Brush with olive oil and grill for a simple side dish, cook in tomato sauce and serve over pasta. Dip in egg wash and breadcrumbs for traditional eggplant parmesan.
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