“Dad, what Happens when eggplants hatch?” asked the perky and inquisitive little brown boy. I never did hear his dads answer, all could do is I turn back and flash a big smile, while moving down the produce section in super market sweep style . When I cleared my shopping list, I stopped, smiled and thought to myself, that question however cute, deserves an answer. Not so much about eggplants hatching (I know now that they don’t, luckily), but how, and more importantly why someone would mislead us with a name like that. After doing the research, I found a suitable answer. History states that during the English occupation of India, the fruit was named “eggplant” because the variety of eggplant that common was small and white like an egg (simple enough). No matter whether it’s called an “eggplant” in English, or “aubergine” in French, the world agrees that eggplant are very nourishing. In fact ancient Sanskrit dating back to 300 BCE describes eggplant as a food, and a medicine. In the Hindu (natural healing method) Ayurveda system, white varieties of eggplant are used for diabetics, while the roots of the plants are deemed useful for asthma. It doesn’t stop there. In 1544 a renaissance herbalist named Matthioli spoke of eggplants’ aphrodisiac qualities in his writings.
Eggplants carriy “nough” (slang for a whole lot) nutrition. Each one cup of the vegetable carries 20 calories, and contains high levels of vitamin A, vitamin B, folate and vitamin C. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service states that the chlorogenic acid in eggplant is responsible for its antioxidant qualities, which fight off the effects of free radicals while also lowering LDL cholesterol (the bad stuff). So in the end, eggplants may never hatch, but they will always be worthy of mention. Try this healthy eggplant dish from EatingWell.com and discover the power of eggplant for yourself.
Chef Will Hall
Grilled Chicken Ratatouille
Makes: 4 servings
Active Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram
1 teaspoon salt
Canola or olive oil cooking spray
1 red bell pepper, halved lengthwise, stemmed and seeded
1 small eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise
4 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 medium red onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, (about 1 1/4 pounds), trimmed and tenders removed (see Note)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
1.Preheat grill to medium-high.
2.Combine oil, basil, marjoram and salt in a small bowl and reserve 1 tablespoon of the mixture in another small bowl; set aside.
3.Coat both sides of bell pepper, eggplant, zucchini, tomato and onion pieces with cooking spray. Grill the vegetables, turning once, until soft and charred in spots, about 5 minutes per side for the pepper, 4 minutes per side for the eggplant and zucchini and 3 minutes per side for the tomatoes and onion.
4.Rub the tablespoon of reserved herb mixture on both sides of chicken and sprinkle with pepper. Grill the chicken until cooked through and no longer pink in the center, 4 to 5 minutes per side.
5.Meanwhile, transfer the grilled vegetables to a cutting board and chop into 1-inch pieces. Return to the bowl and toss with vinegar and the remaining herb mixture. Serve the grilled chicken with the ratatouille.
Tips & Notes
Note: It’s difficult to find an individual chicken breast small enough for one portion. Removing the thin strip of meat from the underside of a 5-ounce breast—the “tender”—removes about 1 ounce of meat and yields a perfect 4-ounce portion. Wrap and freeze the tenders and when you have gathered enough, use them in a stir-fry or for oven-baked chicken fingers
Per serving: 324 calories; 13 g fat ( 2 g sat , 9 g mono ); 82 mg cholesterol; 16 g carbohydrates; 36 g protein; 7 g fiber; 687 mg sodium; 1063 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (100% daily value), Vitamin A (35% dv), Potassium (30% dv), Folate & Magnesium (20% dv)
Daunay, M. (2007). History and iconography of eggplant. Retrieved from http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/chronicaeggplant.pdf
eggplant image . (2013). Retrieved from http://www.reddit.com/r/pics/comments/1eghco/and_thats_why_its_called_an_eggplant/
Grilled chicken ratatouille. (2013, 07). Retrieved from http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/grilled_chicken_ratatouille.html
Joy, T. (2005, 09 05). The nutritional benefits of eggplant. Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/19046-nutritional-benefits-eggplant/