Mr. or Mrs. Eggplant?
There are those who have discussed ad nauseaum which version of eggplant is better, the male or the female. Some claim that male eggplant is less bitter than the female because they have fewer seeds. A male eggplant, according to eggplant experts, has a round, small flowered end while the female is less round and smooth.
I have no interest in whether eggplant is male or female, but on your next purchase of this wonderful vegetable, bring your magnifying glass and see if you can pick out the difference.
I grow eggplant without regard to gender in my garden and have always found that if you pick it young, it will not be bitter. So much for the gender theory. Eggplant straight out of the garden is firm and shiny, not shirveled looking or spongy to the touch, which is often the case when choosing it in the supermarket.
My favorite way to use eggplant is to stuff them or use them to make marinated eggplant in olive oil
or classic caponata
. To make stuffed eggplant, get a medium size one (male or female, your choice) and cut it into 8 length wise, 1/4 inch thick slices and sauté them very quickly in a little olive oil, just until they are wilted looking and start taking on a little brown color.
Then let them cool while you make up your favorite meatball mixture. I use a pound of ground beef, but pork or veal is good too. Divide and spread the mixture on each slice of eggplant. Roll up each slice on itself to encase the meat. Place them in a casserole and pour 2 cups of tomato sauce over them. Add some grated cheese over the top. Cover with foil and bake in a 350F preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. Delicious!
And while you are enjoying them, you can ponder the gender question!