Aubergines, also known as eggplants, are naturally low in calories: 100g provides about 15calories. They are low in fat, rich in fibre and a fine source of B-group vitamins needed to absorb nutrients like carbohydrates, protein and fat.
The glossy purple skin of the aubergine is particularly rich in a phytonutrient called nasunin. Nasunin is a powerful antioxidant that acts as a scavenger for harmful free radicals mopping them up and neutralising them before they damage cell membranes.
Some recipes call for salting the aubergine before cooking it to get rid of any bitter juices.
This step isn't really necessary since many modern varieties of aubergines have been bred to remove their bitterness.
The flesh of aubergines acts like a sponge, so it soaks up lots of oil if you're pan frying them. If you want to fry slices of aubergines, but don't want them too oily, par boil them for a few of minutes to reduce their absorbency, then pat dry with a kitchen towel before frying.
Creamy aubergine soup
This comforting fix for cold, rainy days is a great way to get your daily veggie quota.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
450g aubergines, peeled, chopped
2 tsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled, crushed
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
800ml vegetable stock
1 small potato, peeled and chopped
Salt and white pepper to taste
1 Heat the oil in a saucepan over a low to medium heat. Add garlic and onions; fry about 7-8 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent.
2 Add cumin and coriander. Cook; keep stirring for a few minutes.
3 Pour stock and water into the pan, then add the potatoes. Bring to a boil, turn the heat down and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the aubergines and potatoes are tender.
4 Puree the soup with a stick blender until smooth.
5 Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
Nutritional information per serving: 86kcal, 361kJ, 3.2gprotein, 2.8gfat, 13.6gcarbohydrates, 3.9g fibre
This Turkish dish is stuffed with garlic, onions and tomatoes, then simmered in oil. This low-fat version uses less oil, yet tastes great. Serve with bread as appetiser/light lunch.
Ingredients (Makes 4)
2 medium aubergines
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely sliced
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large can tomatoes, drained
1 tsp each of allspice, cinnamon
100ml water or vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 Halve the aubergines lengthways, leaving the stems intact. Make a few slits in the cut surface.
2 Heat 1 tsp of oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Fry the onions and garlic until soft and translucent - about 7-8 minutes.
3 Add the tomatoes, cook and stir for a couple of minutes. .
4 Stir in cinnamon and allspice. Let mixture cook for 3-4 minutes. Add remaining oil and water, stir, season.
5 Add aubergines cut side down.
6 Cover and simmer on low heat for 1 hour or until aubergines are soft and cooked. Baste aubergines occasionally with tomato mixture.
7 Let aubergines cool to room temperature before serving.
8 Place aubergines skin-side down on a plate. Spoon the tomato mixture on top. Add parsley; serve.
Nutritional information per aubergine: 128kcal, 538kJ, 4.5gprotein, 6.7g fat, 14.0gcarbohydrates, 6g fibre