Eggplant and grilled vegetables1

Eggplant and grilled vegetables

The subtle flavor and meaty texture of eggplant make it especially versatile in cooking. Perhaps that’s why eggplant is found in so many cuisines around the world.

One of the strengths of eggplant is its ability to absorb the flavor of whatever it is cooked with and at the same time add a creamy bulkiness to a dish.

The dark purple, bulbous, egg-shaped eggplant (called ‘aubergine’ almost everywhere but in the United States) is the most recognizable eggplant in most markets. But the long Oriental types are catching on, and other varieties–such as the tiny green Thai eggplant–can be found on occasion.

You can’t eat eggplant raw, but you can cook eggplant in many ways: boil, steam, sauté, stir-fry, braise, bake, deep-fry, grill, broil, and microwave.

Eggplant

You can’t eat eggplant raw, but you can cook eggplant in many ways: boil, steam, sauté, stir-fry, braise, bake, deep-fry, grill, broil, and microwave.

Ingredients

  • Rinse the eggplant and pat dry. Cut off the stem end and discard. You can peel eggplant if you like, but it’s not necessary. Cut into cubes or ½-inch-thick (13 mm) slices. Halve or slice miniature eggplants lengthwise.
  • To reduce the amount of cooking oil absorbed by the eggplant during cooking, sprinkle the slices with salt and let drain in a colander for 30 minutes. Then rinse and pat dry.

Instructions

Bake.

  • Cut eggplants into ½-inch-thick (13 mm) slices; brush all sides with olive or salad oil.
  • Arrange in a single layer in a shallow baking pan.
  • Bake, uncovered, in a 450ºF (232ºC) oven until well browned and soft when pierced (20 to 30 minutes).

Grilling.

  • Use miniature or small regular eggplants.
  • Cut off stem end, then cut miniature eggplants in half lengthwise or regular eggplants in 1½-inch-thick (3 cm) wedges.
  • Grill until streaked with brown and tender when pierced (12 to 15 minutes).

Pan-frying.

  • Prepare 1 to 1¼ pounds (.4-.5 kg) eggplant, cutting it into ½-inch-thick (13 mm) slices and salting as described above.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil or salad oil in a wide frying pan over medium-high heat.
  • Add a single layer of eggplant, without crowding; cook, turning as needed, until browned on both sides and soft throughout when pierced (8 to 10 minutes).
  • Add oil as needed until all eggplant is cooked.
  • Lower heat to medium if eggplant browns too quickly.

Notes

Top hot cooked eggplant with garlic butter, basil, oregano, marjoram, or minced parsley. Top baked sliced with sliced tomato and shredded Cheddar or Romano cheese; return to oven until cheese is melted.

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Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. Harvesttotable.com has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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