Today we talk about the Eggplant: history, Types, property and of course over 30 absolutely unmissable recipes with this vegetable that has now conquered Italy with its goodness and versatility. The aubergine is one of the most characteristic vegetables in Sicilian cuisine: from caponata to pasta to Norma, aubergines are celebrated in dozens of recipes and Sicily is, even today, Italy's largest eggplant producer. And the Sicilian recipes with eggplant are many and delicious.
In addition to talking about the types of aubergines, how to choose them and preserve them to the best and their nutritional properties, I want to offer you the most classic and unforgettable recipes with eggplant. Almost all of them, I have to admit, they're Sicilian. On the other hand, Sicily is the region that produces the most in Italy. In addition to some recipe designed by me but always inspired by the tastes and colors of my land. Of course you will find many first dishes, as rich and tasty as the Sicilian tradition wants, appetizers, contours and even some unique dishes.
What are aubergines?: history, nutritional values and types
Actually, aubergine is the berry of a plant native to India and China, brought first of the Middle Ages to Africa by Persians and Arabs and then, always by the Arabs, imported first to Spain and then to Sicily in the 14th century. And that the Sicilians of this berry have fallen in love as evidenced by the many RECIPES WITH EGGPLANT existing today. From Sicily it spread throughout Europe, where, however, it was initially used as an ornamental plant: Solanum Melongena, the aubergine plant, grows tall and lush and makes beautiful flowers of a thousand shades of purple. Eggplant are in season from June to October and are therefore the queens of summer.
Because of the bitter taste, due to the solanine of which the aubergine is rich, was considered poisonous: hence the name of 'unhealthy mala (unhealthy apple, Bad)’ and it was thought it could also lead to madness. In fact, you can't consume raw aubergine, because it's slightly toxic because of the solanine content, But it's neutralized with cooking. The aubergine we eat today is, however, very different from the one imported by the Arabs and is the result of several crossings, that have mitigated the bitterness, made the pulp softer and decreased the presence of seeds. For this it is no longer necessary to purge the aubergines for hours with salt to eliminate the bitter. This treatment serves, rather, to remove some of the vegetation water, since salt is igroscopic, so that in frying they cook faster.
Buy and store aubergines
At the time of purchase it is good to choose full and heavy aubergines, with smooth skin and uniform color. Soft aubergines, wrinkled or stained skin, they're not fresh and they might turn out to love point. On the other hand, if the touch the fruit is excessively hard, the aubergine is still sour. Is’ proper preservation is important, because the aubergines have no peel and are easily damaged. In addition, are sensitive to temperature fluctuations and dehydrate: never cut the pigeon, which helps keep them fresh.
Aubergines should never be suffocated in plastic. Better to keep them in paper bags or micro-drills. Refrigerate for 5-7 days. You can't freeze them raw, but only already blanched or steamed. Eggplant pulp blackens quickly after cutting, it must then be cooked immediately or sprayed with a few drops of lemon. The habit of purging sliced aubergines and sprinkled with salt is ancient and dates back to times when aubergines had a distinctly bitter aftertaste. Today it should not be applied to every type ,because the supposed bitter taste varies from species to species and today, thanks to the intersections, it's almost absent.
Calories and properties of aubergines
Aubergines have few calories, just 22 per 100 grams and are therefore suitable and any diet. As long as you don't fry them: this vegetable absorbs large amounts of fat and very quickly, so if breaded and fried they reach 230 calories, while simply fried, without the breading, 200 calories or so.
At the level of nutritional values, eggplant is a good source of potassium, folic acid, copper, vitamin A, C, K, B6 and magnesium. They contain anthococnine and, for that, if you eat with the peel (which is completely edible) have anti-cancer and anti-inflamatory properties. They are considered diuretics, due to the fact that they are made up of 92% water, and blandly laxative thanks to the fiber content that facilitates intestinal transit. Fibers also help keep blood cholesterol under control. One hundred grams of product contain 1,2 grams of protein, 6,3 grams of sugars and 1,5 grams of fiber.
Most common types of aubergines
There are several varieties of aubergines. The world's largest producer is China, followed by India and Turkey: eggplant, In fact, prefers warm or temperate climates. The berry is smooth-peeled, thin and edible. Round-shaped, egg and oblong, There are also costlute varieties. Color varies from black to white through endless shades of purple, but there are also green or orange aubergines. The inner pulp is creamy white, spongy and with small edible seeds. Among the most common:
- white eggplant, compact, seedless pulp
- those baby (mini bead), thin and elongated with extremely thin skin
- violet and white striped eggplant, soft and sweet-fleshed
- The Black And Costly Sciacchitana, suitable for frying because it absorbs little oil
- Palermo's black hard aubergine, also suitable for frying
- the Palermitan violet and the round violet Prosperosa, both very sweet and large
- The Violet Eggplant From The Mexican, sweet and meaty, oval-shaped
- the type of silk violet, Seedless, pear-shaped and sweet
- The Red Eggplant of Rotunda Dop, produced in Basilicata. Is’ a round eggplant, maximum weight of 200 grams, that veers from yellow to orange to green. Is’ slightly spicy and has a freshly bitter final aftertaste.
Unmissable recipes with aubergines: first dishes
Among the 30 must-see recipes to try with aubergines are definitely the first dishes. Queen of the first summer is the most famous PASTA WITH STANDARD Traditional Catalonia: a simple tomato sauce with fried eggplant and salted ricotta. From Palermo come the sumptuous TIMBALLO OF ANELLETTI baked and seasoned with hard-boiled eggs, cheese, peas, meat sauce, covered in eggplant and PASTA WITH EGGPLANT IN WHITE. Find out on my channel YouTube all video recipes with aubergines: from timbale at meatballs.
Is, since Messina is no less, The city of the Straits THE PASTA INCASCIATA MESSINESE (you've probably seen in some episodes of Commissioner Montalbano) and glthe SICILIAN PASTA AND EGGPLANT ROLLS, greedy and loved by children. Instead, it is my invention WHITE LASAGNA WITH SICILIAN EGGPLANT, that I strongly advise you to try, creamy and tantalizing.
If you're looking for recipes a little’ originals made with aubergines, I propose four first simple and good dishes: the SICILIAN PASTA AND EGGPLANT BOATS, that will surprise everyone for taste and lightness. The sumptuous FRIED EGGPLANT TIMBALLO WITH MEATBALLS: a casket with so many fried meatballs inside.
Or the elegant FRIED AND RAW EGGPLANT NOODLES AND PRAWNS, a first dish suitable for a fine seafood lunch or dinner with friends or family- And finally the rustic and tasty BUCATINI WITH EGGPLANT PULP AND DRIED TOMATOES, vegetarians (even vegans) and just good.
Sicilian side dishes with aubergines
Among the aubergine-based side dishes, which can actually be considered even hearty unique dishes, everyone should taste once in a lifetime the real EGGPLANT CAPONATA, made only with eggplant, sweet and sour and served strictly cold. Nothing to do with ratatouille being passed off as caponata in the rest of Italy. Simple but effective GRILLED AUBERGINES, the COLD PARMIGIANA ALLA MESSINESE, the EGGPLANT ROLLS CAPRESE STYLE.
Then the SICILIAN EGGPLANT PARMESAN, different from that bell but equally tasty. Is, to complete the triptych, the EGGPLANT MEATBALLS, soft and tasty, with mint or fresh basil, perfect as a starter. Sicily is then the kingdom of the rolls: of meat, fish but also vegetables. In addition to those stuffed with pasta, there are also STUFFED FRIED EGGPLANT ROLLS stuffed with breadcrumbs, oil, herbs and cheese, also in the version Grilled. And the very fast EGGPLANT PIZZAS. Also in the version enriched with puff pastry, as in EGGPLANT COTTAGES.
Another great classic of Sicilian cuisine are the EGGPLANT STUFFED WITH GRAVY , I'll leave you in the family recipe. The ones prepared by my grandmother I still remember, with their intense scent of fresh mint. Simple and home-made, the recipe of the Boats EGGPLANT IN PAN It's a great solution for a single dish that's fast to prepare and light, without turning on the oven: with tomato and melted cheese, they are irresistible.
If the oven doesn't scare you, try the BAKED EGGPLANT WITH TOMATO AND GREEK FETA, fresh and light, excellent even cold and then prepared in advance. Or the BAKED EGGPLANT WITH YOGURT AND TAHINA CREAM, delicious and particular, read and protein.
Or, if you prefer grilled vegetables, try the GRILLED EGGPLANT WITH TRAPANESE PESTO, a light and tasty appetizer with almonds and tomato. And how not to mention the SICILIAN PEPPERONINATA WITH POTATOES AND EGGPLANT, Messinese version of the classic pepperoni, with fried eggplant and fresh basil.
Ragusa and Modica give us the SCACCIA RAGUSANA PARMIGIANA, a thin bread dough wrap that encloses the most disparate fillings. Many traditional Sicilian recipes with aubergines have given rise to many variations, as the PARMIGIANA FISH FLAG, which can also be prepared with swordfish. or CAPONATA DI PESCE SPADA, became almost a classic sea appetizer of Sicilian cuisine.
One of the most delicious family recipes is a variation of the potato gateau, the one with FRIED SAUCE AND EGGPLANT: a delicious filling, enriched with cheese queuing. Finally, from the family cookbook also peeps out the AUBERGINE MEATBALLS IN TOMATO SAUCE, loved by the big ones but especially the little ones. And the sauce is perfect for seasoning spaghetti.
Unique dishes with aubergines
If you want to add aubergines to your second dishes. I'll leave you three cold proposals and read, since we are now in summer weather, and a lukewarm and really greedy. L’COUS COUS MACKEREL AND GRILLED EGGPLANT SALAD it's an original and eye-catching salad, a unique dish fresh and light but decidedly tasty. The VEGETARIAN PUFF WITH GRILLED VEGETABLES and buffalo mozzarella is perfect as a starter, second or single dish, accompanied by a rich tomato salad.
And the COUSCOUS WITH CHICKEN AND EGGPLANT will bring a Middle Eastern vibe to your boards with taste and lightness. Obviously, the most delicious recipe is also the relatively most caloric one: the CHICKEN BREAST TO THE NORM, breaded but not fried, baked in the oven. But seasoned with fried sauce and eggplant, the symbol of Sicily in the dish. Finally, a star: the CUTLETS AUBERGINE STUFFED, with mortadella and racy scamorza, Obviously fried, and also in video recipe. And very good. Now you should know everything about aubergines: history, Types, property and the 30 must-see recipes you absolutely must try.