Eggplant. Aka Aubergine. That is one of those vegetables that often encourages raised eyebrows and wary looks. I, myself, and somewhat wary of this flowering plant. It’s kind of mushy. If you had asked me 2 years ago, “Easy Eggplant Recipes” would not have topped the list of 1000 blog posts I thought I would ever write. Yet, here I am! And here you are reading it, so yay for us both! We’re growing as healthy human beings!
Over the years I have come leaps and bounds in regards to my picky eating behaviors. As a child, I could count the number of veggies I would eat on one hand. And that is somewhat of the norm in standard North American eating habits. As I was doing my research for this post, I came across this video by Michael Gregor, MD:
I could have been the poster child for the part of his video that says:
“iceberg lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes—that’s all people eat! That’s the problem. Even people eating their vegetables, aren’t really eating their vegetables.”
These days, garlic, spinach and beets are some of my absolute favorite foods to enjoy. But eggplant…eggplant is still mushy. Some may say, “spongy.”
But it has so much to offer, I needed to find a way to work it into my life. Since they are apparently at their best (in season) from August through October, I thought it was high-time to learn a few easy eggplant recipes and learn to love the things. Are you with me?
Nutritional Benefits of Eggplant
In case you need more convincing to start yourself down the path of eggplant eating, perhaps you’d like to know all the wonderful benefits this lovely purple nightshade can bring to your life. Here, I will summarize a few of the most intriguing points I discovered after reading WHFoods.org’s entry on Eggplant:
- High in vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients
- Contains “nasunin” a potent antioxidant and free radical scavenger that has been shown to protect brain cell membranes
- Contains “chlorogenic acid”, one of the most potent free radical scavengers found in plant tissues that help you and your body be anti-cancer, antimicrobial, anti-LDL (bad cholesterol) and antiviral
To sum up, if you want to be anti-sick-all-the-time, eggplant sounds like a pretty darn good addition to your dinner plate!
Selecting, Preparing and Storing Eggplant
Now, if you’re going to go out and buy up a bunch of these pretty veggies, you should know some of the most recommended ways to store it, and the safest, healthiest ways to prepare it. Once you know all this, it will be very easy to apply what you have learned to the recipes that follow!
- When buying almost any fruit or vegetable, it is a good idea to choose ones that have a consistent color and feel – scars, scratches and soft spots are signs of damage.
- If you have a few eggplants to compare when shopping, choose one that is heavy for it’s size.
- If you press the skin of an eggplant with your finger or thumb, a ripe one will bounce back quickly. If it leaves an indent, leave the eggplant.
- After buying the best eggplant you an find, if you are not using it right away, take any wrapping off and keep it uncut in your crisper or a fridge shelf for no longer than a few days.
- Eggplant is one of the very handy veggies that allow you to eat their skin, but when cutting it, it is more difficult to get through than you might expect. On first try, I expected it to be like a zucchini, and it was not. You have to put a little muscle and a nice, sharp knife behind it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like a pumpkin or anything, just slightly more resistant that it looks.
- For the eggplant newbies or those with particularly sensitive palates, eggplant can be slightly bitter. There is a very easy and handy trick to help with this: after cutting into whatever desired size and shape you need for your recipe, you can “sweat” the bitterness out by spreading your pieces out on a pan, salting them (I recommend using Himilayan Pink Salt, or some other nice, healthy, fully mineralized sea salt). Let it sit for half an hour or so and you will see some beads of water coming out of the eggplant. At this point you can rinse the extra salt off and prepare as you like!
Easy Eggplant Recipes
Let’s get down to the good stuff! Here is a collection of absolutely inspiring recipes all featuring Eggplant as the guest star!
I adore hummus, as you may know by now. But what I love almost as much is dips that pair well with hummus – like Baba Ganoush or Antipasto or Olive Tapinade. Or this Aubergine, Mushroom and Garlic Dip that is perfectly mouthwatering!
“Aubergine, Mushroom & Garlic Dip is a healthy and super tasty snack or party starter inspired by the old fashioned Baba Ganoush. I love this rich, garlicky, appetising combination! You can easily twist it your way by replacing or adding ingredients. Use zucchini, tomatoes, olives, peppers etc., if you feel like it. This time, instead of fresh, I used smoked garlic and …oh, boy! What a joy.” Garlic Matters
I absolutely love that this recipe post starts with:
“I don’t like eggplant. I don’t hate it, but it is definitely not something I would buy. When my CSA recently had a couple of small eggplants in our basket, I thought about putting them straight in the compost pile.” Sidewalk Shoes
She gets it! They’re mushy! But they can be delicious, and the salad that is the outcome of this slow start is a winning way to get used to the texture and fall in love with the flavor.
Going through this round-up of recipes I came to one easy conclusion: mint and eggplant are a wining combination. Not only does The Worktop deliver a delish, easy and healthy recipe with her Caponata, but she has some brilliant suggestions on making it a meal that keeps pleasing!
“It’s easy to feed a crowd with this dish, or you could do what we did here — cook enough for a crowd, but don’t tell anyone about the magic happening in the kitchen. Once it’s done, divide the caponata into small portions to save. We put some portions in the refrigerator for the next couple of days, and the remaining portions in the freezer to save for longer.
Cooking this caponata ahead of time and saving them in individual portions is a great way to be able to have a quick and hearty breakfast (or any other meal for that matter) everyday during the week.” The Worktop
Anything with the word “spicy” in the title will always catch my attention, but everything about this grilled eggplant sounds phenomenal to me! And…what’d I tell you…more mint! I’m a very big fan of meals that will work for groups of people with a wide range of eating preferences and restrictions, and this option fits so many different plans all at once.
“Of course this spicy grilled eggplant is absolutely perfect for Meatless Monday, but this delicious way to cook eggplant is also low-carb, gluten-free, dairy-free, Paleo, Whole 30, vegan, and South Beach Diet Phase One, so you can make it for just about anyone!” Kayln’s Kitchen
Part of the inspiration for writing this post came from a conversation I had with one of our regular contributors, Katryna Jolene. While I was brainstorming I asked what she wanted to learn more about cooking. Eggplant was at the top of her mind because she had just heard about Eggplant parm. Now, I would like to tell you that, there is Eggplant Parm and then there is Eggplant Parm! This pasta dish absolutely falls into the latter category…just look at it!
“I am a fan of this recipe for many reasons—it’s CRAZY DELICIOUS, and I love the light feel and fresh taste here compared to the heavy saucy version —now don’t get me wrong, I have my days with the real saucy stuff.. but I can only enjoy a tiny portion of it before I start feeling heavy. This recipe however, I can enjoy all the portions I want! ” Two Purple Figs
If a straight up pasta dish isn’t quite what you’re in the mood for tonight, this casserole version might provide just enough extra comfort to edge out a win for dinner. I am a big fan of casserole’s. I love one-pot meals (and the one pot cleanup) because they are simple to serve, great for left-overs and easy to freeze for future use!
“The other day I was craving eggplant parmesan but knew I wanted to incorporate other vegetables into some kind of baked, casserole-esque melty goodness. I couldn’t decide what I wanted to make exactly, so just started cooking and this baked veggie dish was the result!” Vegan Chickpea
Following closely on the heals of the previous delights, this Eggplant Parm is more traditional, for those of you who experience an uncomfortable heart race whenever faced with an alteration of an Italian classic. As per the rules of a classic dish…they are hard to compete with for excellence of flavor!
“I actually didn’t think I liked eggplant until I tasted Aunt Marie’s masterpiece. One of the reasons I hadn’t liked eggplant was the mushy texture. For me, the texture of a food can be a deal breaker, regardless of the taste; anyone else? I learned that the way to eliminate the mushy-ness is to sprinkle sea salt on the eggplant after its been sliced.” Lydi Out Loud
I’ve recently become more and more aware of the rich flavors of Moroccan food, and this particular easy eggplant recipe caught my attention partly just because of the title, but then the glimmering picture, with it’s promise of sweet and savory full flavors had be absolutely salivating!
“Have you ever had those kind of dinners where you’re not entirely sure how something is going to turn out and you take one bite expecting it to be average and are just completely blown away? That’s how this eggplant was for me. I’m an eggplant fan and definitely enjoy the sweet-spicy combination so I thought this would be good, but it was outstanding.” Bunsen Burner Bakery
This is a dish that had my curiosity piqued from the word “claypot”. I really like trying out ethnic foods that I am unfamiliar with because I’ve been exposed to so many new flavors and combinations by looking outside of my ‘norm.’ I have actually added “clay pot” to my shopping list so that I can try out this experience as culturally correct as possible!
“Eggplant claypot is a heavier dish than most in Vietnam and is well suited to the cooler climate you experience in Ninh Binh, located in northern Vietnam. Any dish that features lemongrass, Asian eggplants, tomatoes, fish sauce and those fantastic herbs like Vietnamese mint and cilantro (coriander) is a winner.” Compass and Fork
One of my favorite things about coordinating this webspace is that readers and contributors come from all over the world. When I sent out a request for easy eggplant recipes, RecipeThis was quick to respond, but brought a very good point to my attention – not everyone knows what an eggplant even is! This could be simply a lack of veggie knowledge, but it could also be because, “I only realised what an egg plant was a month ago as its called aubergine in Europe.” RecipeThis
D’oh! So now we all know. Since eggplant is an acquired taste for many, here’s a trick for picky family members: if they don’t like “eggplant” tell them it’s “aubergine” instead! Or vice versa. Tricky tricky 🙂 Whatever you choose to call it, however, this dish is an incredible way to transition from the salads of summer to a warmer, yet still light and fresh autumn meal.
Historically, I was not a huge fan of Greek food, if I’m being honest. but that was mainly due to my totally flawed assumption that everything involved lamb. As a Vegan, I have had some of the most incredible Greek dishes! This particular recipes is NOT vegan, but when I first saw the picture I thought it was stuffed with Cauliflower, so while you are welcome to follow the step-by-step authenticity of this gorgeous dish, I’m going to be experimenting!
“Another great idea is to add your favorite veggies to the filling. I sometimes check my fridge to see what veggie is about to go bad and just throw it in. It’s a great way to sneak in some hidden vitamins to your kids.” Living Sweet Moments
If you’re looking for something that looks and feels like comfort food, this stuffed eggplant seems to have passed the husband and kid test! Whenever the main feature of the meal is the carrier for all the filling, I am typically pretty satisfied with the meal. Stuffed veggies are tops in my books!
“This is a super easy and delicious recipe for stuffed eggplant. I made this the other night and my husband and I both LOVED it. The kids enjoyed it too!!!” Beauty Through Imperfection
A few short month’s ago, I thought Ratatouille was the name of a Pixar film I’ve somehow never taken the time to watch. I’ve recently learned it’s the name of a fantastic, easy to make, one pan, veggie-ful saucy dinner. And my life is changed for the better…
“Here’s the clincher: 2 cans of diced tomatoes in their juice. I think they were about 400 grams each. That way you don’t have to de-skin the tomatoes yourself. And in my humble opinion, it adds the perfect amount of tomatoey-ness to the ratatouille.” A Lady in France
Do you have a favorite easy eggplant recipe? Share the details or a link to your recipe in the comments section!