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You’ll want to savor these simple, flavorful eggplant recipes

We’re all about finding new ways to prepare common foods, like making pumpkin seeds in your air fryer or turning kiwi into a healthy low-fat take on ice cream. Foods that can be prepared using a variety of techniques, or take on different roles within a meal, really help expand your meal-planning options.

That’s why we love eggplant. It’s such a versatile food — as an appetizer, a main course, and a side dish. It can stand in for meat to make a vegetarian dish extra hearty, and it’s a staple in many types of cuisine. Eggplant can do just about anything. Although typically considered a vegetable, eggplant is actually a fruit since it develops from a flower and contains seeds. With its trademark deep-purple hue and bulb-like shape, it can add flavor, texture, and color to your meals.

Our favorite tips and tricks for cooking with eggplant

Why do you soak eggplant before cooking?

Eggplant can sometimes be bitter, and sadly, you won’t know you have a bitter eggplant until it’s cooked and too late. But there is a method that works wonders to eliminate any bitterness in eggplant. Soak eggplant slices or cubes in milk for about 30 minutes before cooking. Because eggplant works like a sponge, it soaks the milk into the flesh of the fruit, taking away any bitterness and making the eggplant extra creamy. The end result is smooth and juicy, without the bitterness.

Should eggplant be peeled before cooking?

Not always: Small eggplants usually have a thinner skin that can be left on and actually add great texture to the finished product. However, an extra-large eggplant is more likely an older plant, with a tougher outer skin that should be peeled prior to cooking.

What does eggplant go well with?

Eggplant is very versatile and goes well with a variety of different foods, including:

  • Meat: beef, lamb, sausage, pork, chicken, anchovies, and shrimp
  • Produce: bell pepper, coconut, garlic, ginger, lemon, onions, parsley, tomatoes, and zucchini
  • Herbs and spices: basil, cilantro, cinnamon, cumin, mint, parsley, pepper, rosemary, salt, and thyme
  • Other foods: bread, cheese, chickpeas, milk, olive oil, tahini paste, sesame, soy sauce, and vinegar

What’s the best way to eat eggplant?

One of the things we like most about eggplant is that it’s great when prepared so many different ways. It’s delicious hot or cold. Eggplant can be stuffed, grilled, roasted, pureed, fried, or baked in a casserole. It’s a key ingredient in many Mediterranean and Asian dishes, where it’s often mixed with tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil. Eggplant slices can even stand in for lasagna pasta for a lower-carb family favorite version of lasagna.

Looking for some really great eggplant recipes?

Try these delicious ways to serve eggplant — they’ll totally transform your dinner!

Eggplant parmigiana

This timeless family favorite has all the cheesy, gooey goodness you remember, plus just the right amount of red pepper flakes in the sauce to give it a little bit of a kick.

Pro tip: For extra browning, put the dish under the broiler for a couple of minutes right before serving to give the cheesy top a bit of extra browning. Delicious!

Roasted vegetable and goat cheese shooter’s-style sandwich

A vegetarian delight, this delectable sandwich gets its meaty texture from roasted eggplant, portobello mushrooms, and zucchini. Follow the instructions in the recipe to eliminate as much moisture as possible from the vegetables, which helps prevent sogginess and concentrate the intensity of their individual flavors. Once the veggies are cooked, they are layered with sweet caramelized onions, roasted red peppers, and creamy goat cheese.

Easy caponata

This Sicilian dish of eggplant, zucchini, tomato, and peppers, cooked in oil and vinegar, is also flavored with sugar, raisins, capers, olives, and pine nuts. You’ll get crunch in every bite, along with a surprising blend of tangy, sweet, and salty flavors all at once. Serve as an appetizer by adding the caponata to toasted bread, or use as a side dish with grilled fish. Bonus: After it’s stored in the fridge and gently reheated, it tastes even better the next day.

Simple shrimp, coconut, and eggplant curry

Who doesn’t love the convenience of a one-pot recipe? This one simmers shrimp and eggplant in a coconut milk broth, loaded with fresh ginger and a plethora of spices, including garam masala, turmeric, cumin, and coriander.

Eggplant, green olive, and provolone pizza

Grilled cheesy pizza? Count us in. This one is extra good thanks to the smoky dimension of meaty, grilled eggplant, plus the salty appeal of green olives and provolone. You may very well have a new favorite pizza.

We’ve just scratched the surface of the recipes available for cooking this flavorful fruit. Find a few new ones to try each month, and discover fresh, exciting ways to enjoy this bountiful chameleon of the produce aisle.

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Kim Renta
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Kim has written for Bloomingdales, Movado, and various e-commerce wine sites. When she's not writing about wine and…
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