Aubergines - One Fruit, Many Worlds! - Urban Gardeners Republic
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Aubergines – One Fruit, Many Worlds!

Aubergines. One Fruit, Many Worlds

Moutabal aka, baba ganoush, is made with aubergines, tahini, pine nuts and plenty of garlic. Serve with pita, flatbreads and a variety of freshly cut raw vegetables. Also delicious on roasted meats. See Chef Gigi Gaggero’s recipe adaption below for Buttered Baba Ganoush.

Related: The Strawberry Tree Jam Recipe

Aubergines come in so many varieties.

Most commonly seen are the lavender to purple varieties, but what many of us don’t know, is that aubergines grow around the world; yet their appearance is so different based on their geographical locations.

Many of you might be surprised they are so exotic. Aubergines grow in a variety of locations around the world just like many  other vegetables. Yes, there’s more to aubergines than the purple kind. Think about how interesting that is for a moment. In Italy, a tomato looks the same as a tomato that grows in China or the United States, however, this is not true for aubergine. Africa, China, France, India, Italy, Ukraine, and the USA are a few countries that produce aubergine, and all of them come in different shapes, sizes and colors.

In Thailand, there is a variety that is called, Thai Yellow Eggs and they harvest as beautiful yellow fruit that are small and literally have a shape like a chicken egg.

In Cambodia they cultivate The Cambodian Green Giant.

As you might guess, this fruit is large with skin that’s a unique light-color with green stripes.

Another international heirloom aubergines is the Rosa Bianca variety. It is from Italy, proudly flaunting a skin in shades of lavender and also blushing pinks.

From Africa, the Goyo Kumba aubergine. A stunning variety that is unusually tall and attractive.  They can be planted for their fruits or even just as ornaments. Africa produces bright red fruit that are stunningly eye-catching.

In Brazil, aubergine grow as oval and orange. This variety has very attractive fruit that changes color as it matures – from green to orange to red.

Other international varieties of aubergine include Ping Tung Long from Taiwan, Japanese White Egg from Japan, Udmalbet from India and Listada de Gandia from other areas in Italy.

Popular backyard garden varieties of aubergines are Dusky varieties, which takes 60 days to mature, Epics, Black Bells and Black Magics with fruits maturing at 72 days from seed to harvest.

Related: Vegetables That Grow in Shade That You Can Start Planting Now

There are so many ways to prepare aubergine but my favorite is the smokey, rich and creamy dip.  The Oxford Dictionary describes baba ganoush as, a thick sauce or spread made from puree aubergines and sesame seeds, typical of eastern Mediterranean cuisine–mainly Lebanese. See my adaption below. Enjoy!

Buttered Baba Ganoush

Ingredients:

2 large aubergines, slashed with a sharp knife- lengthways 4 to 5 times

2-4 large fresh garlic cloves, peeled and cleaned

2 Tablespoons tahini paste

Juice of ½ lemon (or more to your taste)

1 Tablespoon fine quality olive oil

Warm water as needed

4 oz. unsalted butter

2 Tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

1½ Tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

2 Tablespoons fresh chives, chopped small

1 teaspoon fresh smoked paprika, for garnish

Method:

Wash, dry and then lightly oil the aubergines. Place on a hot, well oiled grill. Cook for 20-30 minutes, turning often until well charred and completely soft.

Cool, split them open lengthways and scrape the fleshy meat into a bowl, cutting as close to the skin as possible without taking any of the charred skin.

Place aubergine flesh in a food processor with garlic, tahini, lemon juice and olive oil Pulse. Taste to adjust seasoning, add a few tablespoons of warm water to thin constancy if needed. (The tahini should be subtle, and the lemon juice should not dominate- its consistency be like a nice dip, or spread for a sandwich ). Season with sea salt to taste. Aubergines are like sponges and soak up as much flavor as you give them, so season well and bring out the flavors.

Place butter in a small pan and bring to a very low simmer. Use a spoon to discard any white milky fat solids that rise to the top. Place the now, “Moutabal” in a beautiful shallow bowl and run the back of a spoon over the top in a spiral or a zig-zag formation (like frosting a cake).

When ready to serve. Pour warmed clarified butter on top– taking care to leave white solids behind in the pan. Garnish by sprinkling with toasted pine nuts, chopped parsley, chopped chives and apply good dusting of smoked ground paprika. Drink with a chilled Rose.

Now….. just sit. Dine, and ponder the aubergines’ world. Preferably…. in your own urban garden.

Read next: Starting a Garden in the City: 10 Things to Consider
*Additional Photo credit : T.Vindy , African seed exchange and (IG) @growfood365

About the Author

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Chef Gigi is recognized nationally as an expert in culinary education. She specializes in families and adults to help increase nutritional awareness and help take some of the stress out of being a busy-aware adult. Chef has coached thousands of children and adults how to shop, prep, cook and eat better. She has developed signature techniques while teaching two decades of hands on classes, private events, public speaking, writing, professional culinary demonstrations, television and radio engagements.Gigi, also was the former Academic Director who wrote and implemented the famed French Culinary School- Le Cordon Bleu’s, Hospitality Management Program. Currently, Gigi works as a freelance food writer, learning and development coach– while continuing as an instructional designer. Chef co-authored, “Learning with Little Lulu Lemon” and has appeared in a variety of media outlets including, Radio Disney and Bay Area local television broadcast with Spencer Christian, on NBC’s “View from the Bay” and CBS, “Eye on the Bay”. Regularly contributed to a monthly column, ” The Family Kitchen” for Bay Area Parent Magazine; a subsidiary of Dominion Parenting Media is the nation’s largest publisher of regional parenting magazines.In 2015 Chef Gigi went on to study at the National Association of Sports Medicine to further understand the impact of movement and nutrition on our bodies.Chef Gigi keeps bees, chickens and grows her own food. Chef contributes monthly to Urban Gardeners Republic with amazing recipes for the garden. Be sure to follow her here.

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