The “Eggcelence” of Eggplant
Here in Phipps’ Edible Garden, many of our vegetables are growing in raised beds, and are bursting with produce! One in particular, the eggplant, is in its prime and here’s why. Some plants, like the eggplant, prefer warmer soil, which is easier to achieve in raised beds and adequately sized containers. Eggplants like the soil temperature to be around 75oF.
In our raised bed, we planted eggplant near peppers, tomatoes, and basil. They have been growing very successfully together!
Besides being very bountiful plants, eggplants are also a beautiful addition to the garden, and children can learn a lot from watching them grow. The leaves of the eggplant have a unique shape and are soft to the touch, providing the perfect opportunity for a sensory experience. The flowers are characteristically a purple star shape. Even the eggplants themselves are beautiful in color right from the start! Eggplants are very versatile vegetables and come in countless varieties. Though the purple, pear-shaped eggplant is the most common, other types are thin, white, striped, or segmented. Did you know that the first eggplants were white and egg shaped? That’s how the eggplant we know got its name!
Looking for ways to involve children in food preparation? Have them help harvest the eggplant, wash it, and peel it with a potato peeler. Children will be drawn to the bright color of the eggplant! Because of its mild flavor, eggplant goes great in a lot of different recipes. Try adding eggplant to pasta, stir-fry, and lasagna, or incorporate it into a vegetable spread!
Here’s a quick eggplant recipe that is a traditional Lebanese spread.
(makes 1 cup)
1 1/2 pounds of eggplant 3 T. extra virgin olive oil 1 T. fresh lemon juice 1 clove garlic, finely minced 1 t. coarse sea salt
Preheat the oven to 375F. Prick each eggplant a few times and place on a baking sheet to roast in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes until they’re completely soft. Remove from oven and let cool. Split the eggplant and scrape out the pulp. Puree the pulp in a blender or food processor with the other ingredients until smooth. Chill for a few hours before serving with pita bread. Baba Ganoush can be made and refrigerated for up to five days prior to serving.