Cooking eggplant is easy and results in a flavorful, fork-tender bite when done correctly. This nightshade can be cooked in a variety of methods making it a perfect vegetable to use year around.
One of the key components in cooking eggplant is removing the bitterness to bring out eggplant’s flavor potential. It is a key step when learning how to cook eggplant but luckily it is easy to do.
Glossy, jewel-toned eggplants make an excellent addition to any savory dish. Its chewy texture makes it a great choice for substituting meat in a vegan dish. Eggplant also lends itself well to sauces and stews with its delightful flavor and creamy texture.
How To Select and Store
Eggplant’s peak season is August through October but fortunately, it can be found year round so you aren’t limited to only cooking it during summer. During the late summer, you should be able to find eggplant at your local farmers market where the eggplant is sure to be freshly picked.
When selecting eggplant; look for a firm, glossy skin with no wrinkling. Lightly press on it with your thumb to ensure it hasn’t gone soft. Eggplants perish quickly so plan to buy it only a couple of days in advance of cooking it. You can store unwashed and uncut eggplant in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Eggplant is rich in vitamins, minerals, and also phytonutrients which help to keep the brain healthy. One-cup of cooked eggplant contains 2 grams of fiber, 7 percent DV copper, and 6 percent DV manganese. Eggplant’s phytonutrients include nasunin, which is an antioxidant which may help to protect cells from free radical damage. Nausunin is found in the skin of eggplant which is all the more reason not to peel it.
Tips and Tricks
Image of salted eggplant via Shutterstock
Often when being prepared, eggplant begins to brown, but But with a few tips you can prevent it.
Opt for a stainless steel knife instead of a carbon steel knife which reacts with the phytonutrients in eggplant. Once cut, brush the eggplant with fresh lemon juice, which will minimize browning.
If you desire tender, creamy texture then salting before cooking eggplant is recommended. Salting will draw out excess moisture and also help to reduce any bitterness that might be present. Some varieties of eggplant like Southeast Asian or overripe eggplants are more prone to bitterness.
To salt the eggplant, place cut eggplant into a colander. Sprinkle both sides with a generous amount of sea salt. Let it sit for 60 to 90 minutes. Rinse with cold water and gently pat dry between two tea towels or paper towels.
Image of grilled eggplant via Shutterstock
There are many ways to go about cooking eggplant ranging from baking to grilling. Each method provides a tasty result. Remember, you can always opt to salt the eggplant after cutting into instructed shape if you are concerned about a bitter flavor. Simply follow the instructions above and then continue on with the recipe.
How To Bake Eggplant
For baked eggplant that’s creamy in texture and lightly browned, you’ll opt to cook it a lower temperature. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a baking mat.
Cut the eggplant into 1/2 inch rounds. Brush eggplant slices lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and ground pepper. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, turning halfway through cooking. Eggplant should be lightly browned and fork tender.
How To Roast Eggplant
For roasted eggplant with a caramelized flavor, you’ll cook eggplant in the oven at a higher temperature. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or baking mat.
Slice the eggplant vertically in half. Cut off the stem. Score the eggplant by cutting it in a crosshatch fashion.
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Brush each half lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt. Roast for 15 to 25 minutes, depending on the size of the eggplant. When roasted eggplant is done, it should be wilting around the edges and have a browned interior. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
How To Saute Eggplant
Sauteing eggplant is a quick and easy way to enjoy the vegetable. Heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Chop eggplant into bite sized pieces. Add eggplant and any desired seasonings or spices. Saute for 10 minutes, or until fork tender stirring continuously throughout the cooking time.
How To Grill Eggplant
Grilled eggplant makes a delicious addition to any summertime barbecue. It also works wonderfully on grilled veggie kabobs.
Heat a charcoal or gas grill over medium-high heat. Slice eggplant into rounds and lightly brush with olive oil. Grill covered if using gas, uncovered if using charcoal for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Season as desired.
Image via Delish Knowledge
Vegan Eggplant Gyros
These light and healthy vegan eggplant gyros make the perfect summer sandwich. Eggplant's chewy texture perfectly replaces the meat that is usually in gyros and its flavor pairs perfectly with the creamy hummus.
Image via Hot for Food
Vegan Eggplant Parmesan Subs
Breaded eggplant topped with marinara and cashew cheese makes the perfect filling for these vegan eggplant parmesan subs. This is an ideal dish for anyone who is hesitant about eating eggplant since all the flavorful fillings with complement eggplant's flavor.
Image via Ally-Jane
This picnic-friendly vegan ratatouille is the perfect dish to liven up your summer with more vegetables. Tarragon adds a herby flavor that pairs perfectly with the eggplant, zucchini, and squash.
Image via Minimalist Baker
Vegan Cashew-less Queso
Most vegan cheese recipes call for cashews much to the dismay of those with nut allergies. But once blended, eggplant makes the perfect creamy substitute in this vegan queso recipe.
Image via Every Last Bite
Rolled up grilled eggplant bakes the perfect outer shell for pesto and marinara in this eggplant cannelloni recipe. This grain-free dish is delicious and comforting without the guilt.
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Image of eggplant in metal bowl via Shutterstock