Eggplant is a cousin of tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes and is grown as a tender annual for its fruits. Wild eggplant originated in India and was bitter, orange, and produced small fruit. Eggplant was introduced to Europe, Africa, and the Americas through trade and by the early 1800s was well known in American gardens.
Eggplant is very versatile and can be roasted, grilled, baked, stewed, stuffed, pickled, pureed, or breaded and fried. It is an essential ingredient in Italian ratatouille and Middle Eastern baba ganoush.