Did you know eggplant is actually a fruit (though served as a vegetable)? With it’s deep, glossy purple skin and wobbly egg or pear shape, it’s quite a unique looking food item!
If you’ve never cooked with it before and aren’t sure how, here are four simple, basic methods for preparing it (stewed, fried, baked & stuffed, grilled).
If you’d like to stock up your recipe box and are looking for a few new dishes to try, you’ll find over a dozen goodies below. Plenty here, enjoy!
- When stuffing, leave skins on but after cutting in half lengthwise, remove seeds and softer portions of pulp.
- For other methods, pare them, cut in slices or cubes then cook as desired.
Stewed – Method #1
- Cover bottom of pot with boiling water to depth of 1 inch and add 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cover tightly and bring to rapid boil.
- Once water is boiling, add prepared pieces; cover tightly and cook rapidly for 5 minutes, or until just tender.
- Drain, and re-heat in desired sauce, such as cream sauce, tomato sauce, cheese sauce, or use in casserole dishes.
Fried – Method #2
- Pare and slice as directed above.
- Pre-cook for 5 minutes in small quantity of boiling salted water; drain.
- Dip in slightly beaten egg to which as been added 1 tablespoon of cold water then dip in bread crumbs, then in egg, then in bread crumbs.
- Saute pieces in 2 to 3 tablespoons of hot bacon or meat dripping in frying pan for about 12 minutes, turning occasionally (other vegetable oils or fats may be used if preferred).
Baked Stuffed – Method #3
- Cut in half lengthwise, then parboil for 15 minutes in boiling salted water.
- Remove pulp to within about 1/2 inch of skin, chop pulp fine and add to 2 cups desired stuffing (one you can try: 1 cup fine dry bread crumbs, 1 cup of ground cooked meat, 4 tablespoons of finely chopped onion, 2 tablespoons of bacon dripping, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, few grains of pepper), blend dressing thoroughly, and season lightly with salt and pepper; fill shells with mixture.
- Sprinkle top thickly with buttered bread crumbs, place stuffed shells in lightly greased baking pan, adding 1/4 cup of boiling water to pan.
- Bake in a hot oven–400 degrees, for about 15 minutes or until it is very soft.
Grilled – Method #4
- Cut into slices lengthwise about 1/2″ thick (leave skin on).
- Brush pieces with flavored olive oil on all sides (garlic is good) then place on hot grill (medium heat).
- Turn frequently and brush with oil each time you turn to prevent charring.
- Remove from heat when tender then season with salt and serve.
Here are a dozen different recipes that I’ve hand-picked from around the ‘net, each are sure to inspire…I hope you’ll find a new favorite or two!
- Crispy Fritters : Ingredients include eggs, finely grated Parmesan, breadcrumbs, Italian parsley, thyme, all purpose flour and cubes of smoked mozzarella. From Bon Appetit.
- Stuffed (Indian Spiced) : Yields 4 servings and made with brown rice, extra-virgin olive oil, onion, Kosher salt, minced garlic, minced fresh ginger, ground bison, paprika, ground cumin, coriander and turmeric, garam masala, cayenne pepper, tomato paste. From Eating Well.
- Grilled (with garlic, cumin & feta) : Serves 4 to 6 as a side, ingredients include garlic, Kosher salt, fresh lemon juice, finely diced shallot, cumin seed, a pinch of cayenne, crumbled feta, chopped fresh mint and cilantro. From Fine Cooking.
- Chez Panisse Pasta Dish : Made with wheat pasta, white button mushrooms (quartered), finely diced red onion, garlic cloves, fresh cilantro, sherry vinegar, diced tomatoes, good olive oil and crumbled feta cheese. Found at Confessions of a Tart.
- Moussaka : Serves 8, ingredients include butter, thickly sliced button mushrooms, garlic, dry red wine, flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped basil and oregano, ground cinnamon, tomato paste, grated parmigiano-reggiano, bread crumbs, eggs, flour and milk. Found at Saveur.
- Oven-Baked Fries : Simple to make and just needs egg whites, a couple cups of panko, plain breadcrumbs, garlic powder and cayenne pepper. From Care’s Kitchen.
- Ina Garten’s Gratin : Made with ricotta cheese, egg, half-and-half, freshly grated Parmesan and a good bottled marinara sauce. Found at Food Network.
- Spiced Salad : Ingredients include onions, ripe tomatoes, ground cumin, ground allspice, cayenne, garlic cloves, currants, fresh mint and cilantro. Found at Amateur Gourmet.
- Creamy Creole Casserole (vegan) : Made with chopped onion and green bell pepper, celery, minced garlic, sliced mushrooms, cooked chickpeas, minced parsley, dried thyme, cayenne pepper, paprika, silken tofu, raw cashews, onion powder, water, nutritional yeast, whole wheat bread, dried basil and oregano. Found at Fat Free Vegan Kitchen.
- South Indian Curry : Made with chickpea flour, turmeric powder, asafetida, unsweetened shredded coconut, grated ginger, tamarind paste and fresh cilantro for garnish. From The New York Times.
- Grilled Panini : Made with reduced-fat mayonnaise, fresh basil, extra-virgin olive oil, garlic salt, whole-grain country bread, fresh mozzarella cheese, roasted red peppers (jar) and thin slices of red onion. Found at Eating Well.
- Broiled : All you need is some mayonnaise, wheat germ, grated Parmesan, salt and pepper. Found at Slash Food.
- Grilled : Made with tomatoes, fresh basil leaves, lemon juice, garlic cloves, extra-virgin olive oil. From Maza.
- Meatballs : (Serves 4) Ingredients include finely diced onion, minced garlic, panko breadcrumbs, Parmesan, oregano, parsley and egg replacer. From MidwestVeg.
- Parmesan (with crisp breadcrumb topping) : Made with onion, garlic, Italian tomatoes (canned), coarsely chopped basil, lightly salted fresh mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and dry bread crumbs. From Food & Wine.
- Rustic Bread Lasagna : Serves 9 to 12, ingredients include minced garlic (optional), tomatoes (both canned and fresh), dried Italian herbs, olive oil, large slices of sourdough bread, breadcrumbs, and garnished with basil. Found at Vegan Yum Yum.
A few tips:
- 1 eggplant of about 2 lbs. will serve approximately six.
- Larger sizes typically have a more bitter taste than smaller ones, because of this use the larger ones in dishes mixed with other vegetables and meats (such as casseroles or lasagna). Small or medium sized ones are better suited for being stewed, grilled, fried in slices or cubes, added to sauces or baked stuffed.
- Choose those that are plump and heavy for their size to avoid those that are spongy.
- Fat and rounded ones tend to be juicier than those that are long slender.
- When frying or sauteing, keep in mind that it will soak up the oil like a sponge…only a bit of fat is all that’s needed.
- Once pared and sliced it will discolor quickly. Prepare right before cooking for best results.
- To tell whether or not it is past its prime, cut it open and look at the seeds. Dark brown seeds are a sign that it’s time to discard.
- If an eggplant has large white seeds, remove them before cooking since they can taste bitter.
Source: Some of the information above was adapted from the booklet “Vegetable Cook Book” by McFayden Seeds (1948)