One of the most versatile and delicious vegetables to cook with is eggplant. It can be easily transformed into flavourful appetisers and hearty entrees, that even happen to be healthy.
It’s texture can create a delicious creaminess (think baba ghanoush), or can be crisped in the oven to make an alternative salad topper to traditional croutons.
Known as the aubergine in France, the eggplant derives its name from its pear-shaped egg appearance. This plant is a member of the nightshade family of plants. Other members of this family include tomatoes, potatoes and bell pepper.
There are many varieties of eggplants out there with the most common being the American eggplant, which is also known as the globe eggplant. This variety grows predominantly in North America and can be sourced from groceries stores as well as markets.
How to Buy Eggplant
Though price matters when buying eggplant it is not wise to compromise on quality. Thus, go for eggplants with an even skin tone.
Essentially, stay away from eggplants whose skin has bruises or discolorations. Discolorations and bruises on the skin can be a sign that the eggplant is going bad. A fresh eggplant will have an even skin free of bruises and discolorations and a green leafy crown on top. If you find one with a protruding green stem, buy it.
Apart from the quality of an eggplant, it is also important to check whether an eggplant is ripe or not. To do this, gently push on to the skin of the eggplant with your finger and if it bounces back then you know it is ripe. If there is no bouncing back then that eggplant is not ripe.
How to Prepare Eggplant
There are generally two types of eggplants organically grown eggplants and conventionally grown.
Conventional eggplants have a waxed skin, which improves their shelf life. If you have conventionally grown eggplants you might want to peel off the skin before cooking it.
Contrastingly, if your eggplant is organically grown, there is no need to peel the skin. In fact, the eggplant’s skin is rich in nutrients thus; removing the skin might not be a good idea. The only thing you need to do is rinse the eggplant with water.
How to Cut Eggplant
After you rinse your eggplant the next step is to slice it into pieces. The best way to slice an eggplant is to place it on a chopping board and slice the top and bottom parts first.
Once you have chopped off the top green leafy part and the bottom part, you can proceed with slicing the eggplant. Cut the eggplant into quarter to half-inch slices. When slicing your eggplant, use a stainless steel knife as a carbon steel knife may react with the phytonutrients in the eggplant causing it to turn black.
Source: Clean & Delicious
After cutting your eggplant into your desired slices, salt the pieces. Eggplant holds a lot of water, which contributes to its bitter taste. Thus before cooking your eggplant it is recommended that you salt it.
When salting your eggplant arrange the cut slices in a row on the chopping board, and then sprinkle salt on top of each of the slices. Once you have sprinkled salt on all of the slices place them onto a colander bowl. When placing the slices ensure the salted side faces down so that you are able to salt the other side.
Sprinkle salt on both sides of each of the slices and place them inside the colander bowl. Once all the slices are in the colander bowl, place the colander over a bowl and put something heavy on top of the colander. Leave the eggplant slices for fifteen minutes to thirty minutes.
After salting, the slices will be thinner. Place the thin slices of eggplant onto a kitchen cloth so as to remove any excess moisture. If you want to roast your eggplant, arrange the pieces onto of each other and cut them into dices.
Eggplants absorb liquids quickly. Therefore, when cooking eggplants do not use too much oil.
Roasted eggplants make great additions to any meal. Depending on your preferences, you can use eggplants as a dip for vegetable meals as well as a sandwich filling. Eggplants can also be served with feta cheese nuts and roasted pepper. Eggplant can also be added to your Indian curry fry. Needless to say, there is a lot you can do with your eggplant.
To give you some ideas, here are creative and unique eggplant recipes you can try at home.
1. Eggplant roll-ups
This is a quick and affordable recipe that you can prepare in just under thirty minutes. With this recipe, you do not have to spend hundreds of dollars on ingredients as most of the ingredients are readily available in stores. This is a great recipe for a weeknight dinner
2. Eggplant vegetable lasagna
A great alternative to traditional lasagna, this eggplant recipe will satisfy your lasagna summer cravings without adding any unhealthy ingredients. This recipe is great if you are looking for a delicious meal that is low in calories. This recipe relies on a combination of vegetables and dairy products. So as not to overpower the veggies go easy on the dairy products.
3. Italian Eggplant parmesan
What makes this recipe unique is the fact that it does not have parmesan cheese in it. Thus, do not let its name fool you as this Italian variant of the popular parmesan eggplant recipe is both delicious and unique. Similar to its American counterpart, this eggplant recipe is easy to prepare and is thus ideal for beginners.
4. Baked eggplant fries with lemon dip
This is one of the simplest and healthiest eggplant recipes. This recipe offers a healthier alternative to the calorie-laden French fries. The strips of eggplant are mixed with a blend of spices including paprika, cumin and garlic powder. The result of this recipe is a savory and crunchy baked treat.
5. Grilled eggplant
If you are looking for an alternative to grilled meat, then this is one recipe you ought to try. Grilled eggplant makes healthier alternatives to red meat. One of the best things about this recipe is that it is versatile. As such, you can use it to prepare a side dish for your barbecue or a whole meal for supper or dinner.
6. Roasted eggplant dip
A recipe that is almost similar to classic baba garnoush, the roasted eggplant dip recipe offers a tasty twist to this classic dish. The tasty twist is yogurt. Apart for added taste, this recipe looks colorful thanks to the green parsley leaves included in the mixture.
7. Eggplant noodles
Eggplants can be used to make all types of meals, including noodles. If you are a fan of noodles you can now prepare them with eggplant. The end product is a delicious meal that you can prepare to be a substitute for conventional noodles. This recipe is great if you are trying to cut down on carbs.
8. Oven roasted eggplant with garlic chili
Vegetarians and persons on the paleo diet will love this eggplant recipe. This recipe takes advantage of the eggplant’s natural characteristics and is great for vegans. Add garlic and chili and you got yourself a tasty meal with a kick to it. This recipe can be used as a main course as well as a side dish.
9. Eggplant jerky
The eggplant jerky recipe is a unique and creative alternative to conventional beef and bacon jerky. As tasty and chewy as traditional beef jerky, this tasty snack is ideal if you want something to munch on while on the go. It is easy to prepare and can be stored at room temperature.
10. Turkish stuffed eggplant
This recipe works great with extra-large eggplants such as the American eggplants. Though not as easy to prepare as other recipes on this list, the stuffed eggplant recipe is still great for beginners. One of the best things about this recipe is that it has a wide array of ingredients from tomatoes, garlic, chili and ground beef.
11. Lazy layered eggplant
Another great alternative to making lasagna, the lazy layered eggplant will have you looking and feeling like a gourmet chef. This tasty dish looks like traditional lasagna but is easy and quick to prepare.
This is a great recipe for a dinner meal that does not take time. Thus it is ideal if you want to enjoy a delicious meal at dinner but do not want to spend hours in the kitchen.
12. Eggplant parmesan rollatini
The eggplant parmesan is a popular dish. By adding marinara sauce, grated mozzarella source you can spice up your parmesan rollatini. This recipe offers all the goodness you would expect from lasagna or noodles. It is another great alternative to lasagna that does not take hours to make and is equally as delicious.
13. Eggplant pasta salad
A great meal for a picnic, the eggplant pasta salad is prepared using healthy and delicious ingredients. Some of the ingredients in this pasta salad include capers, pine nuts, and sauteed tomatoes. This recipe makes for a great picnic meal.
14. Eggplant Pomodoro pasta
Pasta is a great summer meal. That being said, the eggplant Pomodoro pasta recipe is your go to recipe for a great summer meal. This simple and light meal has all the ingredients you would expect from a summer meal from plum tomatoes, sautéed garlic, olive oil to capers.
Next time instead of preparing conventional pasta why not go for this unique pasta recipe!
15. Grilled eggplant panini
One of life’s simple pleasures is enjoying delicious grilled eggplant. This grilled eggplant recipe is great for a summer treat. All the ingredients you will require are readily available. To add flavor this recipe adds mozzarella cheese. For an additional punch add roasted red peppers. All other ingredients from the chopped basil, garlic salt, and red onion slices add to the meal’s flavor.
Video Eggplant Recipes
If you prefer videos with instructions then this section is for you.
Below you’ll find twenty of some of my favourite, easy eggplant recipes from eggplant parmesan to pizza bites and stir fry. Hopefully you find something you like, and eggplant becomes one of your favourites as well.
16. Eggplant Parmesan
Starting off with a classic Eggplant Parmesan seemed like a natural fit. This is one of my very favourite Italian dishes. This version would be great for family dinner night combined with a hearty side salad. At at only 300 calories per serving, is a great way to have some comfort food without the guilt.
- slice and bake the eggplant
- layer sauce, eggplant, and cheese
- bake until golden brown
17. Eggplant Parm Bites
A mini-version of the classic eggplant parmesan above, these bite-sized portions are a hit at a party, and are super-easy to make. Say goodbye to pre-made freezer appetisers, and make these at your next holiday or cocktail party instead.
- slice prepare eggplant, let sit while you prepare the filling
- mix cheese, egg, and seasoning to combine, then sandwich between slices of eggplant
- freeze for one hour, then batter and fry until golden brown
18. Eggplant and Soy Sauce Side Dish
While most people are pretty familiar with eggplant in Italian recipes, incorporating Asian flavours is a tasty way to try something new. Simple to prepare, and quick to cook, this is a great side dish on a busy weeknight, and can be served over rice on its own or with some tofu or chicken for a more filling meal.
- clean and steam eggplant
- prepare the sauce (garlic, ginger, soy sauce, fish sauce, green onion, and spices)
- shred eggplant into strips and combine with sauce
19. Eggplant Stir Fry with Garlic and Lentils
If you liked the last recipe, you’ll love this version, which uses similar flavours, but adds hearty lentils to make this a filling plant-based meal perfect for vegetarians and vegans. I know lentils and Asian-style eggplant don’t seem like a natural fit, but I promise its worth a try!
- prepare the spices, ginger, garlic, and scallions
- slice eggplant and set aside
- heat a pan with a small amount of oil and heat garlic and ginger, then add green onion and veggies
- add eggplant and a cup of lentil, plus 1/2c of vegetable broth
- once the eggplant is soft, add a mix of cornstarch and water, stir to combine and serve
20. Rolled Eggplant Salad Recipe
Source: Heghineh Cooking Show
This Armenian eggplant appetiser uses simple, fresh flavours to make a beautiful salad that would be great at your next dinner or cocktail party. While this recipe calls for frying, you could bake the eggplant for a healthier version. The garlicky yogurt filling adds protein, and substituting greek yogurt for sour cream makes it a little healthier without sacrificing any flavour. The tangy yogurt works beautifully with the rich eggplant.
- peel, slice and prepare eggplant
- fry or bake eggplant, until golden brown and let cool
- prepare the filling with yogurt, minced garlic, and herbs
- add a small amount of filling at the end of each eggplant slice, roll, and serve
- sprinkle with fresh herbs, and serve over a salad
21. Italian Grilled Eggplant
Source: Vincenzos Plate
Grilling is a great seasonal way to make a summer side dish. Adding a little bit of Italian seasonings adds a lot of flavour without any extra calories. This recipe recommends some fresh toasted bread and olive oil for serving, but these grilled eggplant slices would also make a great addition to sandwiches or burgers. On their own which some fresh greens they are a lovely light lunch.
- prepare and slice eggplant lengthwise
- brush with olive oil and grill over medium heat until done
- arrange on a plate with some greens of your choice, and top with garlic, salt, olive oil, and a small drizzle of balsamic
22. Zucchini Chips Dip
This recipe, from Healthy Grocery Girl makes a a creamy and flavourful baba ghanoush adds hummus to the dip to add extra protein and flavour without any added fats. She puts it all together with some crispy baked courgette chips and celery to create a low-carb snack, but pita chips would make this a hit at a pot-luck.
- slice the eggplant in half and score, bake until soft
- blend with chickpeas, tahini, garlic, salt and pepper
- serve with courgette chips or pita chips, or use as a spread in sandwiches
23. Eggplant Rollatini
Source: Seonkyoung Longest
Eggplant Rollatini served with baked chicken or spaghetti squash is a delicious twist for Sunday night dinner, and makes for great leftovers (if there are any!). It’s also a low-carb alternative to pasta that’s so good you won’t even miss traditional noodles.
- slice and fry eggplant, let cool
- mix filling of ricotta, an egg, and seasoning
- carefully place some of the filling at the end of a slice and roll eggplant
- spoon marinara into the base of a casserole dish, place eggplant rolls carefully, cover with cheese, and bake
24. Eggplant Lasagna
Looking for a low-carb take on a classic? This eggplant lasagna is the perfect way to enjoy a classic while sneaking-in an extra serving of veggies into your dinner. It’s also a great way to get your lasagna fix if you’re trying to go gluten free, or be a little bit healthier.
- slice eggplant and bake until golden brown n each side
- prepare lasagna filling
- layer eggplant, filling, and marinara sauce in a casserole dish; bake until golden brown on top
25. Cheesy Eggplant Pizza
Continuing the low-carb trend, these cheesy eggplant mini-pizzas are like bagel bites— but healthy. Both kid’s and adults will love these updated twist on an old favourite. Baking them in the oven adds crispiness without the extra fat of frying.
- slice the eggplant into rounds, salt and set aside
- pat the eggplant dry, rinse, and dry again
- top with tomato sauce and cheese
- bake until cheese is melted and is golden brown
26. Sicilian Eggplant Pasta Recipe
Source: Vincenzos Plate
For something a little more indulgent, this Pasta alla Norma recipe is authentic, and has a very helpful step-by-step recipe so you can easily recreate it at home. The recipe calls for frying the eggplant, but again you could also bake it for a lighter version. It would be perfect for a date night or dinner party— any time you want to impress your guests!
- prepare and fry eggplant
- make sauce with tomatoes, garlic, herbs, and olive oil, adding 2/4 of the eggplant at the end
- cook pasta, and toss with sauce in the pan
- serve, garnishing with the rest of the eggplant, and some fresh basil
27. Grilled Eggplant and Wild Mushroom Salad Recipe
Source: Laura in the Kitchen
Looking for something light and fresh? This Grilled eggplant and mushroom salad uses baby eggplant and a mix of wild mushrooms to create lovely side dish for Spring.
- slice baby eggplant, and tear mushrooms
- brush with oil and grill over medium heat
- cool, and toss with salt, pepper, and vinaigrette
28. Grilled Veggie Panini Recipe
Source: Laura in the Kitchen
This grilled vegetable panini is the perfect way to use up any leftover veggies in your fridge, and packs some delicious flavours under toasty slices of bread. This would make a great weekend lunch or family dinner, as you can customise the ingredients in each sandwich for each person.
- slice and grill veggies
- make a sandwich using veggies and sliced mozzarella
- lightly butter each side of bread, and grill in pan or panini press until cheese is melted and bread is golden brown
29. Tofu and Eggplant Stir Fry
Skip the Chinese take away, and make this healthy eggplant and tofu stir fry instead! The tofu makes this a great vegetarian dish, but you could also substitute chicken if you prefer.
You can really customise this recipe by adding any extra veggies you have on hand besides the eggplant. It takes a little bit of prep, but the cook time is quick, making this a great option for a weekend date night at home.
- slice and grill tofu
- then stir fry the eggplant and veggies and toss with seasoning
- add tofu and heat through; serve over rice or noodles
30. Charred Eggplant Spread
Source: Everyday Food
This smoky roasted eggplant dip is oil-free, low fat, and makes a healthy, flavourful dip that would also be a great alternative to mayonnaise on sandwiches, or even be served on its own with pita chips or crispy veggies like carrots and celery. Making this ahead of time and leaving it in your fridge intensifies the flavours— meal prep made easy!
- bake eggplant whole for 30-40 minutes
- let cool completely and carefully slice in half
- scoop out flesh, and season, mash/mix thorough, drizzle with a little olive oil
Ratatouille isn’t just a heartwarming Pixar film about a talented rat— it’s also a veggie-packed, healthy, and simple dish that full of veggies and flavour! There are so many ways to make this, but this version makes a beautiful casserole like the one in the movie. This would be so much fun to make with kids who love the film, or as a gorgeous side dish at a dinner party that is sure to impress your friends.
- prepare the sauce, using roasted peppers, tomatoes, onions, and garlic
- cook until everything is soft; blend to combine (or use a hand blender)
- slice eggplant, tomato, and courgette
- spoon sauce into the bottom of a casserole dish, arrange sliced veggies, top with herbs
- cover with a lid or parchment paper, and bake for 40 minutes
32. Stuffed Mexican Style Eggplant Recipe
Source: How To Cook Great
Eggplant and Mexican food may not be the first pairing you think of, but this no carb recipe will satisfy your craving for tacos or burritos while giving you lots of veggies, and lots of flavour. Mozzarella and cheddar cheese may not be authentic Mexican food, but makes this recipe feel a a little decadent.
- slice eggplants in half, score, and bake until completely soft; set aside
- sauté veggies, spices, and pinto beans
- fill eggplant ‘boats’ with veggies, top with cheese, and bake again to melt
33. Roasted Eggplant Fries
Source: Torey Armul
These crispy roasted eggplant fries will be a hit with kids and adults. Perfect bite-sized pieces also make these a great option for your next holiday party for a lightened-up twist on everyone’s favourite french fry. The best part? It takes only 30 minutes from start to finish.
- peel eggplant and slice into fry-shaped pieces
- coat in egg mixture, then with seasoned read crumbs or panko
- bake for 15 minutes until golden brown and crispy
34. Easy Caponata Recipe
Source: Seonkyoung Longest
Italian eggplant caponata is a simple, seasonal, and summery vegetable stew that you can serve with grilled bread, or on top of baked chicken or fish. With just a few simple ingredients it comes together easily and is packed with flavour.
- prepare veggies, cooking until soft
- add crushed tomato, olives, and spices
- heat through, and serve
35. Baked Eggplant
This last recipe is not only gluten-free, but aims to satisfy your craving for fried chicken without the chicken— or the frying. Robin is very thorough in her instructions, which makes this recipe practically fail-proof. The crispy eggplant slices are delicious on their own as an appetiser or snack, but would also be fantastic in a sandwich.
- slice eggplant into rounds, salt and let sit for 30 minutes
- pat dry, then rinse with cold water and dry again
- prepare dredging stations (rice flour, egg, gluten free panko), and bread eggplant slices
- arrange on a nonstick baking tray and bake for ten-fifteen minutes on each side
History of the eggplant
The history of the eggplant goes back many years. The first cultivation of the plant was in China sometime in the 5th century. The plant was subsequently cultivated in other parts of the world, including, Africa, the Middle East and Italy, the country it has become synonymous with. European explorers are to blame for the plant’s introduction into the western hemisphere.
Due to its rather bitter taste, the eggplant was for centuries regarded as a bitter plant capable of causing insanity, leprosy, and even cancer. In Europe, the plant was used more as a decorative plant. The eggplant only became a staple in Europe in the 18th century.
One of the things that make the American eggplant a favorite of many is its beautiful deep purple skin. The eggplant also comes in a wide array of color variants including lavender green, jade, yellow-white and orange. For the purposes of this article, I stuck with the popular purple colored American eggplant. Inside, the eggplant has a cream colored spongy flesh.
The eggplant is high in fiber and low in calories. Thus its nutritional benefits are undisputed. Although the plant is available in most grocery plants all year round, its prime time is in the months of August and October. Thus, the right time to purchase eggplants is during the months of August and October.
There are many ways to prepare eggplant, and these are just some of the few ways you can cook eggplant. It is my hope that this article has taught you a thing or two about the many health benefits of eggplant and also how to prepare it. Armed with this information you can now prepare your own creative eggplant recipes.
What do you think? Which ones do you most want to try for yourself?
All of these recipes are simple, tasty, and (mostly) healthy, and are all fantastic ways to add more vegetables into your meals. I love eggplant, and hope that some of these recipes make you learn to love eggplant, too. As you can see, it can be transformed into impressive entrees, creamy spreads, and crispy slices to satisfy all of your cravings.
I would love to hear what you thought about this article in the comments below, and of course hope you share it with your friends and family if you enjoyed it.