EGGPLANT: INCREASINGLY POPULAR!

Our Dutch eggplants are available again! With their shiny peel and significant taste, usability in the kitchen and lots of health benefits, the eggplant is becoming more and more popular.

Did you know…?

  •  Eggplants are actually a kind of fruit instead of a vegetable?
  • You cannot eat them raw: always prepare them in some kind of way (cooked, baked)
  • In Belgium, they call it ‘eierplant’, which literally means the same as eggplant. In other countries the fruit is called ‘aubergine’ more often.
  • The flesh of an eggplant is nearly white?
  • Eggplants can taste a little bit bitter. You can solve this by sprinkling some salt on the flesh and leave it for 30 minutes before getting along with your dish.
  • The fairly neutral taste of the eggplant makes them perfectly suitable in many dishes; you can combine the product with nearly any other ingredient, even the more stronger seasonings like garlic and onion.
  • The eggplant was one of the most popular smileys on Whatsapp the last years? We are not going to explain why though.
  • Eggplants do not contain calories, cholesterol or fat.

Dutch eggplants

The first Dutch eggplants have been harvested this week. They have a very good quality and we are eager to bring them to the consumers again! Eggplants are related to tomatoes, chilli peppers and potato; they belong to the so called ‘nightshade’ family: Solanaceae. Our Dutch eggplants have a very high and constant quality: due to few weather conditions and constant checks on the cultivation, we can offer the best product.

Cultivation

The eggplant came to Holland in the end of ’70 – beginning of the eighties, probably together with immigrants from for example Morocco, where the fruit is eaten a lot. Back in the days, the eggplants were harvested after 6 weeks of growing, when they were almost red-brown colored, super bitter and extremely hard. Nowadays we like them more soft and with a deep purple color. From planting the flower until harvestable product takes about 3 weeks nowadays.

Market facts

During 2020 home cooking got more popular, mostly driven due to Covid-19 related changes i.e. working at home. While trying out new recipes and products, consumers found their way to the eggplant shelves.Sales (euro) of the purple eggplant increased with 23% (Source: IRI, ytd wk 1-40, '19 vs '20 excl hard discount) and Volume (kg) increased with 38%.


Into the future

Eggplants are one of our favorites. With their beautiful color and constant high quality, we want to give every consumer the opportunity to enjoy this healthy product. They are super versatile,


Van Onselen – Dirk van Duijvenbode’s favourite eggplant recipe!

As Dirk always says: ‘Eat more aubergine!’. His favorite eggplant recipe: Moussaka.

Ingredients

  • 15 g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • olive oil
  • 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 4 sprigs of fresh sage
  • dried oregano
  • 250 ml red wine
  • 1 x 660 g jar of chickpeas
  • 100 g dried brown lentils
  • 4 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 x 400 g tins of quality plum tomatoes
  • 4 large firm aubergines
  • 800 g potatoes
  • 750 ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 75 g unsalted butter
  • 75 g plain flour
  • 50 g feta cheese
  • 50 g kefalotyri or pecorino cheese
  • 2 large free-range eggs

 

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4.
  • Just cover the porcini with boiling water, then set aside to rehydrate.
  • Peel and finely slice the onions and garlic, then place in a large pan over a medium-low heat with 1 tablespoon of oil. Strip in the rosemary and sage leaves and add 1 teaspoon of dried oregano.
  • Roughly chop the porcini (reserving the soaking liquor) and add to the pan, then fry for 10 minutes, or until softened, stirring occasionally. Turn the heat up to high, then add the wine and let it bubble and cook away.
  • Stir in the chickpeas (juice and all), lentils and 2 bay leaves. Scrunch in the tomatoes through your clean hands, then pour in the porcini soaking liquor (discarding just the last gritty bit).
  • Season with sea salt and black pepper, bring to the boil, then simmer on a low heat for 1 hour, or until thickened and reduced, stirring occasionally.
  • Trim the aubergines and peel with a speed-peeler, leaving a little of the skin to create a stripy effect, then slice into 1cm-thick rounds. Place in a colander, sprinkle with a good pinch of salt and leave in the sink to drain (the salt will draw out the moisture).
  • Peel the potatoes and slice into rough 1cm rounds, then parboil in a pan of boiling salted water for 5 minutes. Drain and leave to steam dry, then place in a large, deep roasting tray (30cm x 40cm).
  • Season, drizzle with oil and scatter over 1 heaped tablespoon of dried oregano. Toss well to coat, then roast in a single layer for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden and tender.
  • Meanwhile, rinse the aubergines and pat dry with kitchen paper, then spread out across a few large roasting trays.
  • Drizzle with oil, season with pepper and oregano, then roast alongside the potatoes for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden and cooked through.
  • Warm the milk with the remaining 2 bay leaves and the peppercorns in a pan on a medium-low heat – keep an eye on it. Before it boils, strain into a jug, then wipe out the pan and return to a medium heat.
  • Melt the butter, then stir in the flour to form a paste. Start adding the hot milk, a splash at a time, stirring in each addition before adding more, until you have a smooth, creamy sauce.
  • Crumble in one-third of the feta and grate in one-third of the kefalotyri, then simmer over a low heat for a further 5 minutes, or until thick and smooth. Leave to cool slightly.
  • To assemble, spoon half the ragù over the tray of potatoes, then layer half the aubergines on top. Repeat with the remaining ragù and aubergines.
  • Separate the eggs (saving the whites for another recipe). Whisk the yolks into the sauce, then pour over the aubergines. Crumble and grate over the remaining cheese, drizzle with oil, and bake for 40 minutes, or until golden.
  • Leave to stand for 30 minutes, then serve. Great with a Greek salad.

Bringing ———
——— the best
together