This was the most viewed post of the Cook from Scratch with myself and Carol Taylor… I hope many more people are including the wonderful aubergines in their diet after reading these recipes.
Welcome to the series where I provide the nutritional health benefits for a food and Carol Taylor works all week in the kitchen to provide delicious recipes to include in your regular diet. I hope you will go over to her new blog which she has just started: http://myhealthyretirement.com/welcome-to-orienthailiving-my-first-post/ and discover more about her beautiful home in Thailand.
Before we enjoy another wonderful selection of recipes from Carol Taylor it is time to look at the health benefits of this richly coloured vegetable.
Don’t forget to eat your purples! – The Augergine history and health benefits.
There are certain foods that on my shopping list regularly as daily or weekly additions to our diet and others that we might have a little less often.. One of these is aubergines which I love but only eat occasionally as I have a tendency towards gallstones. If you do not suffer from either gallstones or kidney stones then you can enjoy a couple of times a week at least.
We were all encouraged to eat our ‘greens’ when we were children, and we know that the brighter the food colour the more anti-oxidants they contain, but I cannot recollect being told to eat my ‘purples’. But it is this colour which gives this food its uniqueness.
When we are enjoying a moussaka or ratatouille made with this versatile food we don’t tend to dwell on its medicinal properties, but like the majority of fresh produce we eat, aubergines have some powerful health benefits.
The History of the aubergine.
The aubergine has its origins in ancient India and is mentioned by different names in Sanskrit, Bengali and Hindustani languages. It was grown in China as well but only came to Europe around 1,500 years ago. There is no Latin or Greek name for it but there are Arabic and North African names indicating that it came to this continent via that trade route.
Americans call it the eggplant, and in India it is known as Brinjal. In Spain, aubergines are called berengenas or ‘apples of love’ for supposed aphrodisiac properties. Something that I take on faith! In northern Europe they had a strange notion that eating the vegetable caused fevers and epileptic seizures and named it Mala Insana or ‘mad apple’. It is also known as melanzana, garden egg and patlican in other languages.
The aubergine belongs to the nightshade family that includes tomatoes, sweet peppers and potatoes. It grows from a vine and will vary in size and colour although the flesh of all the different types tends to be slightly bitter and spongy in texture.
When you are selecting the aubergine go for the smaller, smooth skinned vegetable. Gently push with your thumb and if the flesh gives slightly but springs back it is ripe. If the indentation remains it is overripe and will be soggy inside. If you knock on the fruit and it sounds hollow it will be too dry and inedible.
What are the medicinal properties of the aubergine.
As with all plants, the aubergine has a sophisticated defence system to ensure its survival. When we eat it, we inherit some of these properties and our bodies process and use specific nutrients to benefit our own health. The aubergine has an abundance of nutrients including antioxidants, phenolic compounds including chlorogenic acid and flavonoids such as nasunin.
Nasunin is a potent antioxidant in the skin of the aubergine and has been studied for its ability to prevent free radical damage to cell membranes. Lipids or fats are the main component of cell membranes and not only protect the cell from damage but also regulate the passage of nutrients and waste in and out of the cell. The research is focusing on brain cell health and eating aubergines regularly may help protect us from degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Nasunin may also help prevent oxidative damage to the LDL or the unhealthier cholesterol in our blood that leads to plaque in the bloodstream and blockages in the arteries.
Nasunin also assists with the regulation of iron in the body. Iron is an essential nutrient required for the transportation of oxygen in the blood and our immune function. However, too much iron can increase free radical damage and is linked to heart disease, cancer and degenerative joint diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. Nasunin is an iron chelator, which means that it binds with the iron processed from the food we eat and transports it safely in the blood stream preventing excess iron from causing damage to cells.
What are the benefits of Chlorogenic Acid.
Chlorogenic acid is a phenolic compound and one of the most potent free radical scavengers in plant tissues. It is very abundant in aubergines and very effective against free radical damage to LDL cholesterol. Additionally it may help prevent certain cancers and viral infections. Like Brussel sprouts some varieties of aubergine can be very bitter and it is thought that this is due to very high levels of Chlorogenic acid, which is also responsible for the rapid browning of the flesh when it has been cut.
Other good reasons to include aubergines in your diet on a regular basis.
The aubergine is a good source of dietary fibre, which not only helps prevent constipation but also helps eliminate waste from the body and prevent the build-up of plaque in the bloodstream leading to arterial disease. Recent research is identifying some very interesting properties in certain fibres including the ability to absorb and eliminate harmful bacteria from the body without the need for antibiotics. Fibre in the diet has been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer and also regulate blood sugar levels
By eating aubergines regularly you will also be including healthy amounts of potassium, manganese, copper, vitamins B1, B3, B6, folate, Vitamin C, magnesium and tryptophan. It is what I call a well-rounded food.
Are there any drawbacks to eating aubergines?
The majority of us can enjoy aubergines on a regular basis in our diet and obtain its full health benefits, but as I mentioned earlier, a small proportion of people should avoid eating it.
The aubergine contains relatively high concentrations of oxalates, which are found in all plants and humans. If oxalates are too concentrated they crystallise and form stones in the kidneys and the gallbladder. If you already suffer from kidney or gallbladder problems then it would be best to avoid aubergines. This also applies to rheumatoid arthritis and gout sufferers, as this vegetable is part of the nightshade family and could increase the symptoms of these diseases. This applies to tomatoes as well. I have found that cooked tomatoes cause me less problems and they are too nutritionally rich to avoid completely. I suggest you try eating cooked tomatoes twice a week, three days apart and monitor your symptoms.
Now time to hand over to Carol, who despite a very busy week, has as always produced some amazing dishes for us.
Aubergines adding purple to your diet.
Aubergines or egg plants as I know them are eaten a lot here in Thailand…They are made into dips, sauces, stir fries, curries …I also had a beautiful Tian but that wasn’t Thai it was in a lovely restaurant on the beach.
It was very finely sliced egg plants layered with tomatoes and courgettes and cooked until the flavours mingled together …I had it with fish and it was very nice…
I am always being surprised at what I find tucked away when I least expect it.
Egg plant also makes a lovely vegetarian curry when they are roasted and paired with a coconut curry .
- 1 pound Japanese eggplant, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 medium onion diced
- 1-inch knob fresh ginger, grated
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
- 1 Thai chili, sliced (optional)
- Chopped cilantro, to garnish
How to prepare
- Make the curry using coconut milk cooked with fresh ginger, garlic, fish sauce and a little raw sugar and onions…
- Sear the aubergine over the BBQ FOR 3-5 minutes then add to the coconut mixture…
- Cook for a few minutes until the egg pant has absorbed some of the coconut curry and serve with rice or noodles…
Sally has told us how beneficial they are to our health so I am now going to give you some recipes which I hope you enjoy.
Starting with? Thai Green Curry
- 2 chicken breasts cut into cubes.
- 6 Thai egg plant. cut into quarters……They are the larger ones in the pictures.
- 2-4 tbsp green curry paste
- Bunch small egg-plant (optional) Pea like size in Picture.
- 10 straw mushrooms quartered or use button mushroom.
- 5/6 stems of Thai sweet basil (pick of leaves1 large or 2 small cans of coconut milk
- Heat a small amount of oil in your pan and add the curry paste I would start with 1/2 tbsp curry paste …You can always adjust the heat later in your cooking… I don’t know how hot you eat curry so would always suggest start small.
- Cook for 1-2 minutes to release the flavour, add tbsp fish sauce cook for a further 2 minutes then slowly add coconut milk and simmer gently.
- Add the chicken, cook on simmer for 20 mins then add vegetables and Thai basil cook for further 20 mins.
- Serve with Steamed or boiled rice.
- If you are making veggie curry just omit chicken and add carrots and broccoli or veg of your choice.
- When we had our restaurant, chef always put extra veg in mine as she knew I liked veg so can add to chicken curry as well if you like although that is not the norm just how she did mine.
- You can use beef or pork instead of chicken if you like but will req longer cooking.
- Garnish with sprig Thai basil and extra sliced chilli… if required.
N.B. You can get curry paste called Nam Ploy from supermarkets in the UK which is a good substitute unless you prefer to make your own paste. We buy ours from local markets which is freshly made and the curry is a lovely vibrant green colour.
Aubergines are also nice just sliced, seasoned and put on an oiled baking sheet in a hot oven for 5-7 minutes then brushed with a mixture of herbs of your choice and popped under the grill for 30 seconds. Serve immediately. Nice as an accompaniment to chicken or fish with a nice salad on a summers evening.
Fancy a quick dip for unexpected guests…
- 2 aubergines
- 100ml natural yogurt
- juice ½ lemon/lime
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 green chilli, chopped
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- olive oil , to drizzle
How to prepare
- Char the aubergines over a flame or cook in the oven and remove skin.
- Tip into a food processor with the yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, chilli, coriander and olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Blend until smooth tip into a bowl, and drizzle with more olive oil.
- For a chunkier dip, the aubergine, garlic and chilli can be chopped by hand and mixed with the other ingredients.
Aubergine dip the Thai way.
- 1 medium egg plant
- 2-4 chillies
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 med shallots
- 1-2 tsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- Big handful coriander
- BBQ your egg plant, shallots, chilli and garlic the chilli and garlic will be done first , pop the chillies into a sealed plastic bag to cool it makes it easier to remove seeds and skin.
- When eggplant is soft then scoop out flesh and add all the ingredients to your food processor or just a pestle and mortar like it is done here.
- Taste and adjust seasoning if required more fish sauce or lime juice.
Serve with noodles or raw vegetables.
The Greek Moussaka is a beautiful dish with luscious layers of minced meat, tomato sauce, béchamel sauce and sweet eggplants.
Also they make a very nice au-gratin layered with potatoes and goats cheese.
Grilled and cubed with watermelon they make a lovely salad using sesame oil as a dressing.
Eggplants are also used in Indian cuisine and pair very nicely with cumin, garam masala and other Indian spices….
All in all a very versatile vegetable….
Quick and easy Aubergine and feta rolls.
- 1 large eggplant, trimmed and sliced into 6 1/2-inch-thick lengthwise slices
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup crumbled or cubed feta
- 2 Tbs. chopped pitted Kalamata olives optional
- 2 Tbs. chopped mixed fresh herbs (such as chives, parsley, and basil); more for garnish
- Cut aubergines into slices long ways; brush them with oil and season. Grill until the aubergine slices have griddle marks on one side about 3 minutes. In a small bowl combine either crumbled feta or feta cubes and mix with olive oil and herbs.
- Put the feta mix or cube of feta on the widest part of the aubergine and roll. Put on a serving dish and sprinkle with olive oil, pepper and herbs before serving.
Egg Plant sauce for pasta
Ingredients – Makes 7 pints or 4 quarts.
- 2 tbsp Olive oil
- 1 large onion chopped
- 6 garlic cloves chopped
- 1 bell pepper chopped
- 2lbs egg plants peeled and cubed
- 8 cups tomatoes peeled and chopped
- 6 oz tomato paste
- 4 tbsp fresh basil
- 2 tsp dry oregano
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/8 cup salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 cup dry red wine
- In a very large pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.
- Add onion and garlic; cook until the onion is soft.
- Add tomatoes, eggplant, bell pepper, tomato paste, basil, oregano, sugar, salt, pepper, and wine; stir.
- Bring to boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Put into hot sterilised jars and seal.
- Process the jars of sauce in a hot water bath for 40 minutes.
- This is a great sauce served over pasta with Mozzarella cheese.
- 1 large eggplant
- ¼ cup tahini
- 3 garlic cloves finely diced
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 pinch ground cumin
- Salt to taste
- 1 tbsp virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp flat leaved parsley
- ½ cup brine cured black olives optional
- Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill.
- Preheat an oven to 375°F.
- Prick the eggplant with a fork in several places and place on the grill rack 4 to 5 inches from the fire.
- Grill, turning frequently, until the skin blackens and blisters and the flesh just begins to feel soft, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Transfer the eggplant to a baking sheet and bake until very soft, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, let cool slightly, and peel off and discard the skin.
- Place the eggplant flesh in a bowl.
- Using a fork, mash the eggplant to a paste
- Add the 1/4 cup tahini, the garlic, the 1/4 cup lemon juice and the cumin and mix well.
- Season with salt, then taste and add more tahini and/or lemon juice, if needed.
- Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl and spread with the back of a spoon to form a shallow well.
- Drizzle the olive oil over the top and sprinkle with the parsley.
- Place the olives around the sides.
- Serve at room temperature.
Once again many thanks to Sally for sharing her wonderful knowledge on the benefits of the Aubergine and allowing me to share my recipes for the Aubergine which I hope you have enjoyed.
As you can see it has been a busy week in the kitchen, and so grateful to Carol for all the hard work that she has gone to again, to make recipes that do the ingredients justice.
About Carol Taylor
Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.
I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.
Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use have to improve our health and wellbeing.
Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!
Connect to Carol
New additional Blog: http://myhealthyretirement.com/welcome-to-orienthailiving-my-first-post/
Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology.
Phuket Island Anthology: https://www.amazon.com/Phuket-Island-Writers-Anthology-Stories-ebook/dp/B00RU5IYNS
Please feel free to share thanks Sally
If you have missed previous posts in the Cook from Scratch series you can find them here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/cook-from-scratch-with-sally-and-carol-recipes/