The orange fruit in my hand is not a tiny pumpkin: it’s a tiny eggplant! I came across the seeds for this unusual vegetable, Goyo Kumba eggplant, several years ago, and I had to try it. If nothing else, I knew it would be great for ornamental purposes. It’s also a fun plant for miniature vegetable fans. I really didn’t know at the time I planted the seeds how I’d use this unusual vegetable in cooking.
It took a long time for my tiny eggplants to ripen to a dark orange color. Thankfully, I was able to use them in decorations for a late September event at my church. Afterwards, I roasted them and vacuum sealed them for later use. I used the frozen Goyo Kumbas only once that winter, when I put them on a pizza along with cherry tomatoes, peppadews, and fresh basil. The rest of them stayed in the freezer and got lost among everything else.
I didn’t use them again until a week ago. I found them while I was rummaging through the freezer for a quick meal. Even though they’d been frozen for three years, they were still in good shape. Now this is an example of why I love to use a FoodSaver vacuum sealer (currently on sale!) for preserving my garden harvests. Because there was no air inside the FoodSaver bag with the roasted eggplants, there was no freezer burn on them.
I also found some turkey that I had grilled around Thanksgiving and then cut up into bite size pieces before vacuum sealing and freezing it. I thawed both the turkey and the Goyo Kumba eggplants. Then I peeled the eggplants because the skins were a little tough and—as I recall from the pizza—somewhat bitter. I was in a hurry, rushing to get to a 6 P.M. Zoom meeting, so I used marinara sauce from a jar. No recipe—I just mixed the turkey, eggplant, and marinara sauce and cooked it in the microwave. Meanwhile, I had cooked some whole wheat rotini while I was peeling and heating everything else.
I served the Goyo Kumba turkey over rotini with some freshly grated Parmesan. To grate the Parmesan quickly and easily, I used another handy kitchen gadget: the Magic Bullet blender. That was all that I had time to make and eat that night. A few nights later, however, I made more Goyo Kuma turkey sauce, and that was when I took some more photos. This time I also heated some of my homegrown green beans which, of course, had been blanched and vacuum sealed before freezing. I coated the beans with my garlic scape pesto, another tasty treat from my garden.
I have since learned some interesting things about this vegetable. First of all, its Latin name is Solanum aethiopicum, also known as Ethiopian or African eggplant. Thus it’s related to Solanum melongena, our usual eggplants, but it’s not exactly the same. They’re both in the nightshade family, solanaceae, so I’m surprised that Wikipedia and at least one seed company state that “the leaves of this plant are eaten as a leafy green” and are supposed to be more nutritious than the fruit. As you can see from my photo, the flea beetles certainly like to eat its leaves. Nevertheless, I don’t trust Wikipedia enough to eat the leaves of anything in the solanaceae family, which are known to have toxins.
I also learned that Goyo Kumba eggplants taste better if you harvest them while still young and green. They’re not as pretty though, so you should leave at least a few to get red if you plan to use them for ornamental purposes. Once the skins were off, I didn’t think they tasted too bitter. Besides, the marinara sauce masked their flavor.
I got my Goyo Kumba seeds from Baker Creek in 2018, but they do not appear to carry this variety anymore. They do have another Ethiopian eggplant, Melanzane Rosso De Rotonda, which is supposed to be quite tasty and which I’d like to try someday.
Have you eaten Ethiopian eggplant? Reply in the comment section below.
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