Eggplant Through the Ages

By Wendy King

If one thinks about purple berries, maybe blackberries or grapes spring to mind. But eggplant is also a card-carrying member of the fruit clan! The eggplant also claims lineage to the ominous-sounding nightshade family, along with the tomato, pepper, and potato, and provides a lot of nutritional value. Since this fruit frequently features in savory dishes from Parmesan to pizza, its true identity is often hidden. In addition to purple, the eggplant comes in shades of green and white, which coupled with its egg shape, sheds light on how it was named.

Documented as early as 300 BC, this funny-looking fruit was first cultivated in India and China and became a staple of diets and medicine, used to treat diabetes and asthma, according to the International Society for Horticultural Science. Eggplant then worked its way across continents to Persia, Greece, Rome, and Medieval Europe. In this last stop, eggplant was interestingly dubbed an aphrodisiac as well as the culprit causing melancholy and anger. These same Europeans also accepted this flexible fruit as a good addition to the evening meal, with the right seasoning added to supposedly ward off any bad effects. The eggplant even traveled to the Americas in the Age of Exploration and was documented in Brazil in the 17th century. Continue reading

Melanzana di Annamaria

Member Barbara Roy has graciously shared her dear friend Annamaria’s Eggplant recipe with the FDC community.

Annamaria is Barbara’s former neighbor who moved to Marblehead from Milano, Italia at age 80! After much convincing, she was finally coaxed into teaching Barbara the recipe, including the secret ingredient, LOVE!

It’s tried and true not only for all of Annamaria’s cooking life but also by a number of her FDC fans. If you still don’t have a go-to eggplant recipe, Barbara urges you to try this one. It’s both simple and delicious!

Barbara Roy's Eggplant

Melanzana de Annamaria

Melanzana di Annamaria
1 eggplant, diced
1 onion, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup water
Aromatics, to taste (salt, oregano, thyme)
Balsamic Vinegar, to taste

Combine eggplant and onion in sauté pan, cover with 1 – 2 tbsp olive oil. Add 1 tbsp tomato paste thinned with 1/4 cup water. Add aromatics and sauté over medium heat until desired doneness. At the end, add a couple drops of balsamic vinegar.

The eggplant comes out tender, fragrant, and delicious. Ready to be eaten as is, served over pasta, or any alongside a crusty piece of garlic bread. Or, as member Grace Taylor opted, atop a homemade pizza replacing traditional sauce.

Grace Taylor's Melanzana de Annamaria Pizza

Grace Taylor’s Pizza Adaptation

Eggplant Spread

Shake up this week’s share with a luxurious roasted spread featuring eggplant. Delicious on crusty rounds, rice crackers, in wraps, or as a dip. This recipe produces a velvety and nourishing spread, bursting with flavor.

Ingredients
1 eggplant
2 peppers of choice, bells mesh in for a purer eggplant taste though spicier peppers can be used
1 onion, cleaned and peeled
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 – 3 tbsps EVOO
1 – 2 tsp salt, to taste
Pepper to taste
1 tbsp tomato paste

Directions

Preheat oven to. Chop all veg into cubes, toss with oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Lay out in a single layer. Cook 45 minutes or until vegetables are lightly browned. Turn veggies at least once during cooking but allow them room to roast. Remove from heat and let cool 5 minutes. Toss roasted veg into blender or food processor. Add tomato paste. Serve immediately or store in the fridge for a few days.