Deep purple and glossy, aubergines are an essential Mediterranean vegetable, featuring in classic dishes such as ratatouille and moussaka. Also known as eggplant, after the white-skinned variety, aubergines should be firm and heavy with a bright green calyx. Violet pearl aubergines are also available - they are a rounder shape than the more popular variety and a light, creamy purple colour. Available from April to October
Uses: Aubergines are delicious stuffed with meat, rice or vegetables and baked. Brush sliced aubergine with oil and grill. Use violet pearl aubergines in the same way as the dark purple variety.
To store: Place in the salad compartment of the fridge for up to 4 days.
To prepare: In the past many recipes recommended salting aubergines to reduce their bitter flavour, this isn't really necessary nowadays, simply wash the skin and trim off the calyx. Slice or cut the flesh into chunks just before cooking as the flesh browns quickly.