Eggplant a healthy option through October

Published 8:00 pm Saturday, August 27, 2011

By Heidi Harrabi

Austin Area Farmers’ Market

Have you tried eggplant lately? You should.

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This much-overlooked vegetable is loaded with all kinds of health benefits. Called aubergine in France, eggplant is a member of the nightshade family of vegetables like tomato and potato.

Known for its characteristic taste as well as texture, eggplants are best enjoyed between August and October. Eggplant’s fiber content is high, which helps our digestive process and also acts against coronary heart disease. Eggplants not only feature a number of vitamins, proteins and minerals but also contain important phytonutrients.

The potassium in eggplants brings a balance in salt intake and maintains a nice level of hydration. It also plays a role in regulating blood pressure. Eggplants also contain folate, magnesium and niacin as well as copper, manganese and thiamine (vitamin B1). And eggplants contain a potent antioxidant called nasunin that is capable of blocking the creation of free radicals.

Nasunin has been found to prevent damage of cell membranes. As a result, eggplants are believed to protect brain cell membranes. You shouldn’t need any more reasons to try one today. The most common eggplant has purple, glossy skin, while its flesh is spongy and cream-colored. There are a few rarely seen varieties at the market, such as Thai eggplant which is the size of a golf ball and is green and white.

Also available at the market this week are cantaloupe melons, potatoes, green peppers, sweet corn, green beans, tomatoes, honey, baked goods and much more.

The Market is open Mondays from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Oak Park Mall, Thursdays downtown, on First Street NE, just east of the justice center, and Saturdays from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Oak Park Mall. All major credit cards and EBT accepted. EBT users, take advantage of our Blue Cross/Blue Shield matching bucks program For the first $5 you spend, we will match it with an additional $5.


It’s not too late for grilling. (It can also be made using an oven, if preferred).

This simple and flavorful recipe makes good use of the fresh vegetables and summer herbs from local farms.

1 medium eggplant

1 poblano or red bell pepper

3 cloves garlic, peeled

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 large tomato

1/4 cup marinated Kalamata olives, pitted and halved

2 sprigs fresh oregano, chopped

3 sprigs fresh basil, chopped

4 ounces fresh or smoked mozzarella, diced

Salt and pepper to taste

Slice eggplant into one-half inch thick rounds, brush each with olive oil on both sides, and sprinkle with salt.

Heat a grill to medium heat. Grill whole pepper on all sides. Grill eggplant slices on both sides, until tender and slightly charred, about 5 minutes per side.

Oil the garlic cloves and wrap them in foil before roasting them on the grill until soft and aromatic, about 15 minutes. Allow pepper, eggplant, and garlic to cool.

Dice the eggplant, seed and dice the pepper, and slice the tomato into wedges. Gently toss the vegetables with olives, oregano, basil, mozzarella, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning. Note: The vegetables can be roasted in the oven if preferred. Toss with oil, salt and pepper and roast at 350°F until tender, about 25 minutes.