–Aubergines have a glossy skin covering a creamy sponge-like flesh with numerous centrally arranged small, soft seeds. Aubergines have a rather bland flavour when raw, but they become soft and flavoursome once cooked.
Native of South Asia, aubergines come in different sizes, shapes and colours, from the plump deep purple oblong variety commonly used in Mediterranean dishes, to the small finger-like varieties used in Asian cuisines. They are available all year round and the whole fruit, including the skin and tiny seeds are edible.
Like potatoes and tomatoes and bell peppers, the aubergine is a member of the nightshade family. Although technically a berry, it is used as a vegetable.
Modern varieties do not require salting before cooking to remove any bitter compounds. Whole, cubed or sliced aubergines can be used in a variety of dishes from tasty sides to satisfying salads and moreish dips to classic mains like Italian parmigiana and the Greek moussaka. Once cooked aubergines have a delicious meaty texture making them ideal for hearty vegetarian stews and currries.
Why eat aubergines?
Aubergines are a great source of soluble fibre essential for reducing bad cholesterol levels and regulate blood sugar.
They are a good source of B vitamins, which the body needs to metabolise fat, protein and carbohydrates. And they are also high in minerals potassium, copper, manganese and magnesium.
The skin of aubergines has significant amounts of antioxidants, including nasunin, which has protective properties against cancer and inflammation and protects the lipids (fats) in brain cell membranes. This fat layer is crucial for brain function.