Inventory, 10 lbs : 0
This item was last sold on : 04/18/15
Italian eggplant is available year-round.
Italian eggplant also known as melanzana in Italian is the generic name given to a plethora of eggplant varieties that are classified within the most common known domesticated eggplant species, Solanum melongena. Eggplant is a member of the nightshade family, Solanaceae, which contains over 3000 species and is one of the most economically important food plant families. Although grown and treated as a vegetable, eggplant is in fact a fruit, as it bears seeds within its flesh. Popular Itailian eggplant varieties include Traviata, Naida, Rosa Bianca and Nubia.
Typical Italian eggplants are characterized by their size, shape and coloring. At maturity the fruits are approximately eight to then inches in length with a cylindrical and oblong shape that is wider at the base than stem. The skin is glossy and smooth and can be varying hues of purple from lavender to ink purple. The flesh is cotton white with barely visible seeds patterned throughout. Italian eggplants should be semi firm to the touch, a sign of ripeness but not over maturity. Italian eggplants are known for their superior creamy texture and depth of flavor when cooked. Although bitterness is often associated with eggplants, if eggplants are picked prior to becoming fully or overly mature they should display little to no bitterness.
Eggplant skin contains a potent antioxidant and free radical scavenger known as nasunin, which protects cell membranes from damage. Nasunin protects the lipids (fats) in brain cell membranes. The skin of Italian eggplants also contains rich levels of anthocyanins, a pigment not only responsible for the fruit's skin coloring, but it is also loaded with antioxidant properties.
Italian eggplant is synonymous with frying and baking, though it is amenable to other cooking methods including sautéing, pan-frying, grilling and even pickling. Italian eggplant benefits from its porous texture, allowing it to absorb accompanying flavors with ease. Additionally it will easily absorb any liquids it is cooked with as well so care should be taken to use a gentle hand when adding oil, butter and cream to avoid soggy or fatty eggplant slices. Common culinary companions include tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, parmesan and mozzarella cheese, onions, garlic, herbs such as basil, arugula and oregano, grilled steak, veal and lamb. All eggplant has a short post-vine shelf life, thus it should ideally be used within three to four days of harvest. Refrigeration should be avoided as Italian eggplants can suffer chill damage from too much refrigeration.
Eggplant has long been a classic ingredient in Italian cuisine. It is star of renowned dishes such as eggplant parmesan, caponata and melanzane sott’olio or pickled eggplant under oil.
Though the name Italian eggplant eludes to these eggplants being native to Italy, their heritage lies further east in India and China, where the first domestication of Solanum melongena occurred. Trade routes brought eggplants to the southern warm climates of Italy and Sicily. Italian farmers embraced eggplants and soon the eggplant would become a symbolic vegetable of the Italian food culture. As Italian cuisine is dominated by the seasons, eggplants are one of the most popular vegetables of the summer and fall tables throughout much of Italy.
Restaurants currently purchasing this product as an ingredient for their menu.
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Recipes that include Italian Eggplant. One is easiest, three is harder.
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