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Garden variety globe (aka American) eggplants are at home in ratatouille or baba ganoush year round.

But summer’s when smaller breeds shine. The payoff: thin skin, creamy texture, and sweet ­flesh.

What to look for

Italian eggplants (top left), which look like small globe eggplants, are less bitter than their American kin.

■ Long, skinny Chinese and Japanese eggplants (top right) range from purple to nearly black. With more skin and less­ flesh, they stay intact while cooking—perfect for stir-frying.

■ Striped fairy tale eggplants (bottom right) fit in the palm of your hand. Just halve lengthwise and grill or sauté.

■ Think of graffiti eggplants (bottom left) as larger fairy tales. Use them in any recipe that calls for globes or Italians.

The best eggplants have taut skin and are heavy for their size, like a full-to-bursting water balloon.

The nutrient payoff

Vitamin-wise, eggplants aren’t kale class overachievers. But any vegetable’s a good vegetable. Like other non-starchy veggies, water-rich eggplant supplies fiber (2 grams per cup) and ­flavor for hardly any calories (just 35).

One taste, and you’ll put eggplants on repeat from now through October.

Photos ( clockwise from top left): Svetlana Kolpakova, yuriygolub, EwaStudio, Rosemarie.