Harvesting and Using Eggplant

Harvesting and Using Eggplant

Harvesting and Using Eggplant

By Brenda Hyde

Eggplant is best harvested when it's young and tender. When the skin is shiny and you can gently push on it with your finger and it springs back then it's ready to harvest. Once the skin turns dull it's past it's prime and turns bitter. I've had over ripe eggplant before and it's probably turned off many a person to it's goodness because of the bitterness. If you cut an eggplant open and the flesh is brown and spongy then it's too late.

Don't break or bend the stem when harvesting. Use a very sharp knife or garden shears and carefully cut so some of the stem is still on the eggplant. Handle the eggplant gently and use as soon as possible. It can be stored in the refrigerator for a day or so, but will soon turn spongy as mentioned. The fresher you use it the better!

Eggplant Spread


1 eggplant

1 medium onion, peeled and diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. dried oregano or 2 tsp. fresh, minced

salt and pepper to taste

2 tbsp. fresh minced parsley

Bake eggplant whole (poke a few holes) at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. When it's cooled enough, peel and dice the eggplant. Place it and remaining ingredients in a food processor and blend until it's a spread consistency. Chill until ready to serve. Serve with crackers, pita bread or pita crisps.

Summer Vegetable Stew


1 Eggplant, chopped

2 Zucchini, chopped

1 Red or green bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1 large sweet onion, chopped

3 large ripe tomatoes, chopped

2 cans Garbanzo beans(14 ounces), drained and rinsed

1 can Artichoke hearts packed in Water(14 oz.), drained and quartered

1 tablespoon fresh oregano

Freshly ground black pepper


Optional: Crushed red pepper flakes to taste

1 package egg noodles, cooked

Add all ingredients except for noodles to the crock pot and stir well. Cook on low for 8 hours. Serve over the cooked noodles. Top with Parmesan Cheese. Notes: You can also add sweet Italian Sausage to this if you wish that has been browned first. In that case, skip the noodles and serve with a crusty bread. Serves 6.

Stuffed Eggplant Halves


3 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium onions, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 medium eggplants

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/3 cup golden raisins

Juice of two large lemons

6 tablespoons fresh mint, minced

6 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced

4-5 dashes Worcestershire sauce

1 cup diced or shredded mozzarella

Salt and ground pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large skillet heat olive oil over medium-low heat, add onions and garlic. Cook, covered, for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Soften, don't brown. Cut eggplants in half crosswise. Trim the ends slightly to allow them to stand up. Scoop out eggplant with a spoon, leaving a 1/4-inch layer of shell. Set aside empty skins. Chop eggplant the removed eggplant coarsely. Add eggplant, cinnamon, raisins and lemon juice to the skillet with onions. Cover, and cook for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat for a minute or so, then fold in the mint, parsley, Worcestershire and cheese. Add the salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the mixture loosely into the eggplant shells, and arrange upright on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake in a 325-degree oven for 10 minutes. 6 servings. Note: eggplant skins are usually tough, and so won't be eaten.

Baked Eggplant Parmesan


1 large eggplant

1/4 cup grated Parmesan

1/4 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 cup bread crumbs

1 garlic clove, minced

1/4 cup olive oil

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 cups tomato sauce

2 Tablespoon minced fresh parsley

1/4 tsp. each dried basil and oregano or 1 tsp. fresh

Pare eggplant and cut crosswise into 1/4 inch slices. Beat egg and lemon juice together. Dip eggplant slices in egg and lemon juice, then roll lightly in bread crumbs. Saute garlic in oil for about 5 minutes to flavor-DO NOT burn-the heat should be up to where the oil is just barely sizzling-stir frequently. Add eggplant slices and saute until golden brown. Remove eggplant and keep warm. Add tomato sauce, parsley, basil, and salt to oil remaining in skillet; simmer for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Arrange alternate layers of eggplant, Parmesan and mozzarella cheese and sauce in casserole. Top with mozzarella cheese. Bake in 350 oven for 30 minutes.

Easy Oven Roasted Vegetables


1 28 oz jar homemade or store-bought chunky spaghetti sauce

1 medium eggplant, peeled and diced

2 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced

1 medium red bell pepper, diced (can use green too)

1 medium onion, sliced thinly

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon wine or herb vinegar

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine all ingredients except basil in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Bake, covered, 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, stir vegetables and return to oven. Bake 30 more minutes or until vegetables are tender. Sprinkle with basil before serving.

Pasta With Sausage and Vegetables


3 ounces mild or hot Italian sausage, removed from casing

Olive oil

1 small zucchini, diced

1 small red onion, diced

1 baby eggplant, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

2/3 cup any small pasta, cooked according topackage directions

6 small fresh sage leaves, minced

3 tablespoons whipping cream

1/4 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

Brown the sausage in a large skillet over medium heat, crumbling as it cooks, for about 4 minutes. Add a drizzle of oil if necessary to keep sausage from sticking.

Add the zucchini, onion, eggplant and garlic. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring, until vegetables are tender and begin to brown at edges and sausage is cooked through, 5-7 minutes.

Add the drained pasta to thevegetables. Now add the sage, cream, salt and pepper to taste. Cook about one minutes just to heat through.

Ratatouille Nicoise

1/3 cup olive oil

1 large onion, sliced

1 zucchini

1 small eggplant

3 tablespoons flour

2 green peppers, seeded and cut into strips

1 pound fresh tomatoes, chopped or 1 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes

salt and pepper

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1 tsp. fresh basil, chopped


1 tablespoon capers, drained & chopped

1 - 12 oz. jar marinated artichoke heart, diced

Cut the eggplant into 1/2 inch cubes and sprinkle with salt and place it in a colander to drain for 30 minutes. Pat dry with paper towels. Heat oil in large skillet, add garlic and onion, and sauté. Slice the zucchini. Flour the pieces of eggplant and zucchini lightly. Add to the skillet,cover and cook slowly for about an 1 hour. Add tomatoes and artichoke hearts if using, and simmer uncovered until mixture thickens. Add the chopped basil, salt, pepper and capers the last 15 minutes of cooking. Notes: The squash should be medium in size, not too large. Also, if the mixture looks too dry at any pint you can add water, chicken broth or wine to it a small amount at a time.

About the Author

Brenda Hyde is a wife and mom to three, a freelance writer and editor here at OldFashionedLiving.com

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