Fairytale Eggplants

I’m enchanted by the beautiful baby eggplants I found at the farmer’s market in downtown Durham a couple of days ago. In addition to being the most adorable things ever, they are called “fairytale eggplants!” Whoever magically shrunk them did us all a favor. They have tender skins and only a few seeds. They’re sweet and firm without the mushiness and bitterness found in the mama-sized eggplants.  So for all of you who love eggplant and even those who don’t, these ethereal fruits are for you.

Fairytale eggplants are basically magic for your health, too. Similar in nutrition to the larger eggplant varieties, they are high in fiber, vitamin B1, and copper, and contain many stand-out phytonutrients like anthocyanin, found in the royal purple color of the skin. Anthocyanin is a potent antioxidant that protects cells from damage. Exciting research is reporting that these phytonutrients may help protect the fats in brain cells, which are responsible for many of the cells’ functions.

These whimsical eggplants range in length from 1 – 4 inches and are available from mid-July – October, primarily at farmer’s markets. They are perfect for marinating and grilling whole, or slicing for sautéing and roasting. They cook quickly and become tender almost right away. Simply cut them in half lengthwise and sauté them in a pan with a little oil, and they get brown and caramelized in just 2-3 minutes. I cut the ends off, toss in olive oil and salt and pepper with cherry tomatoes, and roast at 400 degrees F until tender. They will add something fanciful to your feast, no matter how you cook them.

Take September’s Healthy Challenge and eat fairytale eggplants. Check out your local farmers market today and contribute to your happily ever after.