@The Farmer’s Market: Versatile eggplant in fruit family

South Louisiana’s hot weather and afternoon rains have brought a bounty of locally grown produce to farmers markets. They are bursting with fresh fruit, such as peaches, watermelon, cantaloupe and blueberries, and plenty of tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables.

Several varieties of eggplant from small oblong ones to round and pear-shaped ones are also available at the markets now. While commonly used as a vegetable, eggplant — a member of the nightshade family — is actually a fruit. It can range in color from white to a glossy, very dark purple. Select firm ones heavy for their size and use shortly after purchase.

Eggplant, used extensively in Greek, Turkish and Italian cooking, has long been popular in Mediterranean countries and in southern Asia.

Since its flesh discolors quickly, cut an eggplant just before using. It can be baked, broiled, fried, grilled, used in stews or stuffed.

— Cheramie Sonnier