Braving the eggplant!

If you have been avoiding eggplant because you don’t know what to do with it, then maybe this eggplant dip, or Melitzanosalata recipe, or Baba Ganoush can convince you it is worth another look. It certainly helped me appreciate it more! I didn’t grow up knowing anything about eggplants, aubergines, brinjal or guinea squash (the other names it is known by). They have been a bit of a mystery to me.

Over the past few years since living in the Adelaide Hills and visiting the local farmer’s markets, I have taken to including them in my meals. I am still working out the best ways to use them, but recently I attended a course in a cooking kitchen with a bonafide chef (so excited! – a highly distinguished chef – but not the nasty kind, Chef Kasper Christensen) and learnt how to make this delicious dip.

I have to say I was a bit shocked when I saw the Chef put them onto the open flame of a gas stove! It was a new cooking method I hadn’t seen before. I have now done it at home and used my BBQ and my gas cooktop. I decided I prefer the BBQ as it can be a bit messy on my cooktop. I’m definitely a “the less cleaning up, the better” person!

One of my key learnings from making this recipe is to make sure the eggplants are fully cooked through! If they aren’t the flavour will not be very nice and you will have wasted some good eggplant and time. The eggplant needs to cook for long enough for the flesh to become very squishy before you remove it from the flames. I was also surprised at how long this took to cook. It’s certainly not a really long time, but it was longer than I anticipated. I remember watching the chef working on other things while the eggplant was “burning” away on its open flame, and thinking “don’t forget about the eggplant!”. I needn’t have worried. He had done this many times before and the result was amazing!

So go ahead and burn your eggplants, make them nice and squishy, and enjoy the unique flavour they produce using this method.

Eggplant dip 2
Benefits of Eggplant for mental wellbeing

The below table shows some of the nutritional benefits of eggplant. Based on this analysis some of the best benefits of having eggplant are the fibre, potassium, vitamin C and choline content for mental health.

On further research, it appears that eggplant is a very good source of many bioactive compounds which have a huge variety of health benefits. Some of the keywords mentioned are anti-cancer, anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatory and neuro-protective benefits (1).

Eggplant is high in potassium which seems to be important in reducing depression (2). This may be linked to better overall dietary intake rather than specifically potassium, but there is some evidence to suggest that increasing potassium levels improves mental well-being (3).

Recommended Dietary Intakes vs Availability in Eggplant
Eggplant Nutrients e
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Mediterranean salad

Mediterranean Salad


  • Author: Michelle Fenner
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cups 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

A delicious salad that combines the flavours of the  Mediterranean. You can use this salad as a side for beef koftas or to go with Souvlaki.


Ingredients

Units Scale

1 Lebanese cucumber – finely diced into 1/2 cm cubes (no need to remove the seeds)

2 tomatoes – finely diced into 1/2 cm cubes (no need to remove the seeds)

1/8 red onion – finely diced

1/3 cup Greek feta cheese, crumbled

1/4 cup olives, chopped into pieces or halved

1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped

1 cup baby spinach, roughly chopped

Dressing:

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1/2 tbsp lemon juice

1/2 tbsp dried oregano (or 1 tbsp fresh oregano)

1/2 tbsp dried thyme (or 1 tbsp fresh thyme)

1/8 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Instructions

  1. Combine all the salad ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Combine dressing ingredients in a jar and shake it to combine.
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad.

Notes

DIETITIAN TIPS

If you have time to allow your tomatoes to ripen on the bench for a few days, they will reward you with more flavour.

 

  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Category: Dinner, Lunch
  • Cuisine: Greek

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 4
  • Calories: 594
  • Sugar: 8.4g
  • Sodium: 361.7mg
  • Fat: 28g
  • Saturated Fat: 14.4g
  • Carbohydrates: 53.4g
  • Fiber: 5.36g
  • Protein: 33.6g
  • Cholesterol: 133.8mg

References

[1] Gürbüz, N., Uluışık, S., Frary, A., Frary, A., & Doğanlar, S. (2018). Health benefits and bioactive compounds of eggplant. Food Chemistry, 268, 602–610. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodchem.2018.06.093

[2] Mrug S, Orihuela C, Mrug M, Sanders PW. Sodium and potassium excretion predict increased depression in urban adolescents. Physiol Rep. 2019 Aug;7(16):e14213. doi: 10.14814/phy2.14213. PMID: 31444870; PMCID: PMC6708056.

[3] Huang, A. A., & Huang, S. Y. (2022). Increasing Potassium Intake Up to 2300mg is Associated with Decreased Depressive Symptoms in United States Adults: Analysis of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2017-2020. Research Square (Research Square). https://doi.org/10.21203/rs.3.rs-2110891/v1

[4] National Health and Medical Research Council. (n.d.). Nutrients. Eat for Health. https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/nutrient-reference-values/nutrients Amounts vary depending on age and gender, pregnancy and lactation status but these values are taken from adult requirements..

[5] Wang, W., Miyatake, K., Takeo, S., Harada, Y., Yamaguchi, S., Koyama, M., & Nakamura, K. (2023). Acetylcholine content in 100 accessions from the worldwide eggplant (Solanum melongena L.) core collection. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, 119, 105233. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jfca.2023.105233

[6] Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes: Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and Choline. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 1998.