Eggplant, also known as aubergine, belongs to Solanaceae family and is native to India. It was introduced to Italy in XV century by Arabs, in Sicily, where important cultivations were started. Nowadays, Italy is the ninth Eggplant producer.
Eggplant is a perennial plant growing 40 to 150 cm (16 to 57 in) tall, usually in temperate climates. Usually with a spiny stem, it has large leaves and small white-to-purple flowers. The fruit, with the same name, is botanically classified as a berry, It is long and egg-shaped, with glossy and purple skin, and whitish and meaty flesh..
As regards nutritional facts, Eggplant has a low content in fat, protein, and carbohydrates, and neither is very rich in vitamins and minerals like potassium, calcium and phosphorus, as well as regards fiber. Notwithstanding that, Eggplant is considered moderately useful against high cholesterol levels.
In cooking, Eggplants are usually sliced or diced, but you can also blend them or bake them whole and then fill them. They are also great fried and with tomatoes. Among the best-known recipes with Eggplants, there is parmigiana di melanzane, a typical dish of Neapolitan tradition. But, also, melanzane a funghetto, baba ghanoush, moussaka… or, if you prefer lighter recipes, you can just slice and grill them.
Fun fact: you can store Eggplant in the fridge, preferably in the crisper drawer. Do not store it sliced, or it will rapidly oxidize and turn brown. Otherwise, you can slice and freeze it.