How To Buy and Cook With Eggplant
As we sit on the precipice of 2023, I’m eager to see what the new year will bring. It feels like waiting for the stage curtain to open at a play; will we be entertained, lulled to sleep, energized, devastated, or go on a roller coaster ride of emotions? It’s hard to predict.
Just like our diets. How and what will you eat in 2023? With food prices skyrocketing, will you change your grocery shopping habits? Will you purchase different foods to save money? Will you over or under eat, or experiment with different diets? There are many choices: plant-based, vegan, non-dairy, gluten-free, or Mediterranean. The list of diets is endless.
I personally plan to eat more vegetarian meals in 2023. Although they can be labour intensive with all the chopping and peeling of veggies, they use different spices, which creates intriguing, satisfying, and tasty meals. I’d like to share with you a vegetarian chili recipe which has eggplant (see below).
What Is An Eggplant?
Did you know that eggplant is actually a berry, and that the eggplant was originally the size and shape of an egg, hence its name? Eggplants are dark purple and typically shaped like an oversized pear. However, at farmer’s markets you can purchase them in different shapes (long and round) and in various shades of purple.
I personally like using eggplant in vegetarian meals because they have a fleshy, meaty texture, which is fulfilling.
However, they can be spongy and tend to soak up oil voraciously when fried, which can be frustrating! I often suggest adding a little water when frying them, to avoid them sticking to the bottom of the pan. However, eggplant is 90% water, so once they soften, liquid will be released.
Eggplant can be cooked in a variety of ways: stir-fried, baked, sautéed, and simmered. The skin is edible, but tough and rarely eaten, so it’s best to peel them.
On their own, they are somewhat bland, but they taste and pair nicely with strong flavoured veggies and spices.
When you are choosing your eggplant, look for ones that are free of blemishes, firm, and not spongy to the touch. Plan to use the eggplant right away as they easily perish. Also, store them on your kitchen counter rather than in the fridge.
Vegetarian Chili With Eggplant and Black BeansI like this vegetarian chili because it uses only black beans and not the standard red kidney beans often found in traditional chilis. It also has eggplant, which, again, is not typically found in a chili. If you have fennel seeds, I suggest you try them to give this meal another dimension.
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium eggplant, peeled and chopped into 1-inch cubes
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 small zucchini, chopped
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon cumin
Pinch of fennel (optional)
1 28-fl oz can diced tomatoes with juice
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 cup frozen corn
Salt and pepper, to taste
Heat oil on stove and sauté eggplant until soft in a medium-sized saucepan. Add a little water if the pan gets too dry.
Add mushrooms and onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
Add carrots, celery and zucchini and cook for 5 minutes.
Add spices and stir 1 minute. Add tomatoes, black beans and corn. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 45 minutes.
Add more water if too thick. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with rice.