Easy Eggplant

Need easy eggplant recipes? Whether you want to make a roasted eggplant or you're looking for a good baked eggplant parmesan, you're in the right place. From eggplant lasagna topped with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese to fried eggplant from the farmers' market, Yummly has thousands of easy recipes to explore…

Eggplant, aubergine-- whichever you call it, that purple nightshade is always available in the produce section. But how do you cook it? There are tons of recipes for eggplant in a variety of cuisines, from Italian to Asian to French. Its texture makes it an excellent substitute for meat or a satisfying side dish.

Eggplant is actually a fruit. This spongy fruit is available throughout the world in a myriad of varieties. Its low calorie and high dietary fiber content make it a great diet staple, with approximately 20 calories for one cup of raw eggplant. It's also a good source of potassium.

To prepare eggplant, you typically need to salt the eggplant slices and let it sweat for about 30 minutes, then rinse and pat dry with a paper towel or tea towel. This process tenderizes the eggplant and gives it that great texture and bite you'll notice in chef-prepared eggplant dishes at restaurants. If you've ever baked eggplant without sweating it first, you may have noticed it's not as tender and can get a bit tough, even when covered with a sauce. Sweating the eggplant is especially important if you plan to make it into baba ghanoush since the eggplant will be much easier to mash and have a creamier consistency.

Whether you already love eggplant or want to try it for the first time, Yummly has a lot of easy recipes for eggplant dishes that take very little prep time.

Types of Eggplant

There are dozens of types of eggplant varieties ranging in size and shape. The most common eggplants you’ll see in the average grocery store or market will be the ones listed below:

Globe eggplant

These are the most popular eggplants in the U.S. They are large and rounded. You’ll get the most fruit from this variety. This large eggplant is great for grilling and using in place of meat due to their hearty texture.

Thai Eggplant

These small, round eggplants do not look like your typical eggplant. They are typically green in color, but occasionally you’ll find them to be purple or white. Known to be bitter, these eggplants go well in spicy Thai cuisine.

Chinese Eggplant

Long and thin, this uniquely shaped eggplant has a slightly softer skin than the common globe eggplant. Fewer seeds make them less bitter than other eggplants.

Depending on where you live and what is available at your local grocer and farmers' market, you may need to substitute eggplant varieties. There is also fairytale eggplant, white eggplant, Italian eggplant, graffiti eggplant, and many more!

Ways to Prepare Eggplant

Baking

Line your baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with olive oil before placing eggplant slices on the sheet. Season eggplant with salt and black pepper for simple eggplant chips. Or make eggplant stacks, placing tomato sauce, and mozzarella cheese between each eggplant slice.

Sautéing

You can sauté eggplant in slices or diced into chunks. The smaller the pieces, the faster it will cook. First, add oil to a pan and put on medium-high heat. Add the eggplant and reduce the heat, stirring frequently until the eggplant is tender. This is a great addition to pastas, Asian cuisine, or a simple vegetarian casserole.

Grilled

Grilled eggplant can stand-in for meat because it is so hearty. Brush both sides with olive oil, and season generously with black pepper and salt before placing on a hot grill. Flip once before taking off grill and serving.

Steamed

Steaming eggplant is quick and easy. When steamed, the hearty eggplant is very mild so it's great to use in a dish where it can take on a lot of flavor and spice. Yummly's recipe library has hundreds of steamed eggplant recipes.

Deep fried

Breaded deep fried eggplant is a great appetizer for a vegan or vegetarian crowd. Use breadcrumbs and an egg mixture to create a crispy coating for the eggplant and gently drop each slice into hot oil. Make sure the oil is very hot; if the oil is not hot enough the eggplant will absorb too much oil and be overly greasy. After each slice is fried, top with parmesan cheese and serve with marinara sauce for dipping. You can also use deep fried eggplant in Italian eggplant parmesan.

Broiled Eggplant

Broiling makes an excellent healthy alternative to dredging eggplant slices in an egg mixture and breadcrumbs and then frying. You can create a "deconstructed" eggplant Parmesan by stacking and broiling eggplant and fresh tomatoes on a baking sheet. Fresh tomatoes take the place of a more labor-intensive marinara sauce in this lighter version. Top veggies with a combination of breadcrumbs and Italian cheeses, like mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese, and give it a blast of heat from the broiler. When it's done, the eggplant and tomatoes will be soft, breadcrumbs crispy, and cheeses bubbly and browned in some places. Just like the classic - only healthier! Serve this as a side dish with pasta or as a topper on a crispy baguette. For authentic Italian flavor and heat, finish with a shake of red pepper flakes, a dash of garlic powder, and top with a sprig of basil. You won't believe how easy it is to get that pizza joint taste at a fraction of the time and calories.

Stir-Fry Eggplant

A stir-fry is a classic Asian cooking style that allows you to combine a variety of fresh ingredients, resulting in bold flavors that come together quickly and easily. Combining your eggplant and protein with traditional seasonings, such as soy sauce, rice vinegar, and hoisin can give it that Thai or Szechwan style you're aiming for. Or make a vegan stir fry by tossing an eggplant up in a wok with some other crisp and bright veggies like bell peppers and broccoli served on a bed of white rice or with Japanese soba noodles. Giving your meals an international style will be a welcome change of pace and a quick and easy solution for a busy work night meal.

Eggplant Salad

Roast, saute, or grill it and toss into a salad! Eggplant is about as versatile a vegetable as it gets. Roasted eggplant is deliciously tender and golden brown on the inside, and slightly crispy on the outside when done and pairs wonderfully with pasta. Cook your favorite pasta and let it cool. Then dress it up with roasted eggplant, diced tomatoes, and mozzarella balls. If you are looking to stay low calorie, ditch the pasta and go for grilled eggplant tossed over some super greens like leafy spinach, or hearty kale tossed with lemon juice and a cucumber-yogurt dressing.

Baba ganoush

This popular dip is made from roasted and mashed eggplant mixed with tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and salt-- much like hummus. This creates a dip with a smooth, velvety texture and slightly tangy taste.

To Peel or Not to Peel Eggplant?

The skin of an eggplant can be tough; however, it is edible. You may want to peel the skin using a vegetable peeler or paring knife if you think it is too tough to eat. After cooking eggplant a few times, you'll discover if the skin is something you enjoy eating or not.

A word on nightshades

Eggplants are classified as nightshades. This category includes tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes. Parts of these plants are toxic; however, the fruit or tuber produced is non-toxic. Nightshade plants produce glycoalkaloids, which can be poisonous. These glycoalkaloids are found in the leaves and non-edible parts of the plant. This is something to be aware of if you grow tomatoes, potatoes, or other nightshades in a home garden.

Despite being in the ominous-sounding nightshade family of plants, which also produces some infamous poisons like belladonna, aka “deadly nightshade,” nightshade foods are healthy, edible and make an excellent staple for nearly every diet. Start browsing Yummly's easy eggplant recipes and enjoy all the many dishes you can make with the many varieties of this hearty nightshade fruit.

Read More