Eggplant Recipes

You'll find eggplant in dishes around the world, from Italian to Chinese to Indian cuisine. Vegetarians have long appreciated this hearty ingredient because it can be swapped in for meat in a number of recipes. And eggplants don't all look the same. They can be long and slender like Japanese eggplants, short and striped like the Sicilian versions, or white, like the aptly named white eggplant. This ingredient can be sautéed, roasted, grilled, fried and more. If you're using oil, make sure it's extra hot. According to chef Joël Robuchon, "Usually, cooked eggplant absorbs so much oil and becomes full of fat," which is why eggplant parmesan can be a soggy, greasy mess if not done right. His genius suggestion? If you can, soften the eggplant by steaming it instead of sautéing it in oil. F&W's guide covers all your favorite eggplant recipes, plus a few that might surprise you.

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Charred Eggplant with Burrata and Pomegranate-Walnut Relish

As a thirty-something eager to discover the exoticism of the land where East meets West, I visited Turkey on a trip that would irrevocably change the way I think about flavor. Somewhere between the grand bazaars of Istanbul and the bougainvillea-lined streets of Kas, a small seaside town on Turkey’s southwestern Mediterranean coast, I fell heavily in love with this country—and all of its eggplant dishes.   The vegetarian food of Turkey is light and lively, resplendent with spice, and bursting with color. Vegetables are the headline act in Turkish meze, the small plates of appetizers shared at the beginning of every meal. There is cacik, ground cucumbers mixed with yogurt, garlic, and mint; dolma, grape leaves stuffed with seasoned rice; zeytinyağlı taze fasulye, green beans cooked in tomato, olive oil, garlic, and onions; and muhammara, a spicy red pepper and walnut dip. But it’s the silky eggplant meze plates that shine brightest in my memory.    Eggplant is central to Turkish cuisine and culture; there’s even a folkloric tale that tells of a time during Ottoman Istanbul when many houses burnt down due to unsuccessful attempts to fry eggplant. Today, fried eggplant remains a summertime staple. In fact, there are innumerable eggplant dishes in Turkish cuisine, all beautifully spiced and irresistibly aromatic. A few of my favorites include patlican salatası, a smoky grilled eggplant similar to baba ghanoush; şakşuka, an eggplant and tomato stew; and imam bayildi, a famous dish of eggplant stuffed with tomatoes, onions, and garlic.    This elegant salad is an emphatic nod to the celebratory eggplant dishes of Turkey. Velvety eggplant is paired with a tart-yet-earthy relish of toasted walnuts, cilantro, and pomegranate seeds. Toasting the walnuts brings out their full nutty, slightly bitter character, which plays well against the bright pomegranate seeds, which provide fresh bursts of juice and sweetness. The burrata brings unbridled decadence to this dish, providing an oozy, creamy backdrop for the eggplant and relish. If burrata is not your thing (although honestly, how could it not be?) or you can’t find any, there are many alternatives. You could opt for fresh mozzarella, a generous swipe of rich Greek yogurt or ricotta, a few flecks of goat cheese, or a dollop of tangy labneh. For those looking for a dairy-free option, you could enjoy it with cashew cream or, for a heartier alternative, serve on a bed of bulgur wheat or brown rice. When the weather is warm, grill your eggplant for an even deeper smoky flavor.   A Note about Eggplants: Eggplant, or aubergine as it is known in England and Europe, is a member of the nightshade family that also includes tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes. Many home cooks ask about how to choose the best eggplants, since they range so much in size and skin color. Generally, choose eggplants with smooth, shiny skin that are uniform in color and heavy for their size. Test for ripeness by lightly pressing a finger against the skin—if it leaves an imprint, the eggplant is ripe. Smaller eggplants tend to have fewer seeds and are, hence, less bitter. A green stem is a good indicator that an eggplant is ripe.
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Sheet Pan Eggplant Parmesan

A quick broil followed by a longer bake makes this no-fry recipe hands off enough to put together on a Tuesday, with results delicious enough for a weekend dinner party. Be sure to let the eggplant drain to achieve the best charred eggplant texture.
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Agedashi Eggplant

Deep-fried eggplant is immediately soaked in a mixture of dashi, mirin, sake, and soy to infuse it with flavor and create a juicy texture.
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Sautéed Eggplant

At Petra and the Beast, chef Misti Norris makes an eggplant conserva with salted eggplant, olive oil, and vinegar that pickles for a solid week. This quicker at-home version captures the intention of her flavors in a fraction of the time.
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Roasted Eggplant Sauce

2019 Best New Chef Misti Norris roasts eggplant until it fully collapses then whirls it with honey and oil to create this sauce’s fluffy texture. 
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Baked Stuffed Eggplant with Italian Sausage

If you don’t love eggplant yet, you will after one bite of these over-the-top stuffed dreamboats. Ripe tomatoes and roasted eggplant come together to yield a hearty filling, made even better with the addition of Italian sausage. Combined with a bright and lemony breadcrumb topping and a quick-fix tomato sauce jazzed up with fresh herbs, this makes a stunning summer main dish.
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More Eggplant

Provençal Eggplant-Tomato Gratin

Frank Stitt, owner of Highlands Bar & Grill in Birmingham, Alabama, started his culinary education by working for the late great cookbook author Richard Olney in Provence, France.  This recipe, in which ripe summer tomatoes and eggplant are roasted with herbs and olives, is part of a dinner party inspired by Olney’s love of great wine and seasonal produce. Stitt suggest serving this dish with a bottle of 2000 Domaine Tempier Bandol Rouge – the owners were close friends of Olney’s, and their wines represent the arid, aromatic landscape of Provence. This dish is adapted from a recipe which appeared in one of Olney’s cookbooks “The Good Cook: Vegetables”.  It is a rustic French side, so flavor counts more than presentation here – be sure to salt your eggplant and tomatoes 30 minutes ahead of time for optimal flavor.
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Nasu Dengaku

For his Nasu Dengaku, Best New Chef Kevin Tien of Himitsu in Washington, D.C., brushes eggplant with a sweet yuzu-miso glaze, broils it until smoky and tender, finishes it with a lime-chile-soy vinaigrette with Szechuan peppercorns, and tops it with roasted pumpkin and sesame seeds.
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Ratatouille and Poached Egg

Star chef Ludo Lefebvre shares his easy recipe for the classic French vegetable dish Ratatouille. For a step-by-step video guide to making this flavorful dish, click here. Slideshow: More Egg Recipes