Eclectic eggplant recipes, from baba ghanouj to open-faced grilled eggplant sandwiches.
Food & Wine
1 of 23Bobby Fisher
Baharat-Spiced Eggplant with Hazelnuts, Cherries and Tarragon
F&W Best New Chefs 2017 Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson, of L.A.’s Kismet, brine eggplant before coating it in a fragrant spice mix and pan-frying. They create a magical plate of that eggplant along with pickled onions, sweet cherries, toasted hazelnuts, creamy lebneh and herbs.
Grilling the eggplant for this simple, hearty dish lends both flavor and texture. Make sure the eggplant slices are completely tender before they come off the grill; they won't soften more in the oven.
Jerry Traunfeld created this gorgeous gratin to highlight ripe, juicy tomatoes and other late-summer vegetables, which moisten the crispy bread crust as they bake. "Don't be afraid to lift a corner with a spatula and check to see whether the bread is toasted," he says. "When it's browned, it's done."
Jean-Georges Vongerichten transforms Gewürztraminer, a fruity white wine, into a light syrup. After swirling it with extra-virgin olive oil, basil and bacon, he drizzles the dressing over eggplant ravioli. It would also be superb on a green salad.
Chef Efisio Farris says that his mother used only eggplants from the first pick of the season (le primizie) for this dish because of their supple texture and earthy-sweet flavor without a hint of bitterness. But if you don't have the primizie option, you should seek out firm, heavy eggplants with smooth, evenly colored skin. Check for ripeness by pressing them lightly; if this leaves an imprint, the eggplant is ready to use.
"This recipe is a very traditional one, and this is a common ingredient combination," says chef, Ferit Sarper. He makes the dish especially appealing by serving the eggplant whole and then topping it with an incredibly light tomato vinaigrette.
This eggplant Parmesan is all it should be: delicate slices of fried eggplant nestled in a bright, tangy tomato sauce, layered with gooey fresh mozzarella. The best part is the exceptionally crisp topping, made with dry bread crumbs.
For this supersimple risotto, chef Jonathan Justus grills eggplant until smoky and charred, then blends the creamy flesh into the cooked rice. Just before serving, he sprinkles on sumac, a tart Middle Eastern spice made from the dried berry.
Faux cheeses made with nuts are key to vegan cooking. To stuff these involtini, chef Sean Baker of Gather re-creates the flavor of ricotta by combining pureed raw cashews with nutritional yeast, which has a very savory, almost cheese-like flavor and is available at well-stocked specialty and natural food stores.
To enhance eggplant's savoriness, chef Allen Susser of Chef Allen's in Aventura, Florida (an F&W Best New Chef 1991), glazes it with soy sauce and mirin and sprinkles it with togarashi, a tangerine-scented Japanese spice blend of chiles, sesame seeds and dried seaweed.
Eggplant is a good source of vitamins A and C and is low in calories. It's one of the vegetables Clark Frasier likes to serve during colder months, in hearty dishes such as this soup. "As chefs, we tend to think first of root vegetables, but eggplants are also robust in winter."
The creamy Middle Eastern eggplant dip called baba ghanouj is traditionally served with warm pita and an assortment of salads. Here, we top the pita with the dip and a mixture of romaine, tomato, and cucumber for an extraordinarily tasty meal.
Like many Moroccan salads, this super-silky and intensely flavored version of ratatouille is made from spiced or sweetened cooked vegetables that are mashed rather than cut into pieces. Like Italian antipasti, Moroccan salads are often served as an appetizer.
For this smoky version of eggplant Parmesan, Sam Calagione and Marnie Old looked for a beer and a wine that could stand up to the grilled eggplant without overwhelming it. Sam opted for Guinness. "People often think dark beers are heavy in body, alcohol and calories," he said. "I like that Guinness has roasty flavors but is still relatively light." Marnie chose a cherry-tinged Rioja mellowed by several years of aging.
This sweet and tangy Middle Eastern stew, with falling-apart-tender lamb, is one of wordsmith and perfect host Jesse Sheidlower's favorites. He found it in Nawal Nasrallah's Delights from the Garden of Eden: A Cookbook and a History of the Iraqi Cuisine. "It's a fantastic though little-known cookbook," Sheidlower says. "It's incredibly extensive and provides a lot of cultural and historical background. And it's good to keep in mind that all of this Iraqi culture and history is getting destroyed."