Looking for eggplant recipes
July 18, 2014 10:40 AM   Subscribe

A friend of mine gave me three small eggplants from her co-op basket last night, so I'm looking for some interesting recipes for eggplant. They look like this, which is not what I'm used to, so I don't know if they would do better cooked a particular way. Minor difficulty - gluten free and relatively low fat. Also, how long will these last before they go bad? Do I need to cook them in the next 2-3 days? Thanks!
posted by blurker to Food & Drink (23 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
In my experience, eggplants have quite the shelf life, and if yours were harvested within the past few days, I'd guess they'll be fine for the better part of a week. Also, eggplant tends to just go limp on a slow continuum of still-fine-to-eat, rather than the sudden "BAM, missed me, sucka!" thing that some fruits and veggies do, so if you make sure to cook it asap when you notice it beginning to soften, you should be in business.
posted by threeants at 10:48 AM on July 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

They'll probably last a while, so you don't need to rush to make them or anything. They cook like any regular eggplant, pretty much.

So here are my own big go-to eggplant recipes:

* Ratatouille. You've got the eggplant, you just need zucchini, bell peppers, and a couple tomatoes. There's a bazillion different recipes for this; basically it's a vegetable stew, with the tomatoes turned into a sauce and then you cook the zucchini, peppers, and eggplant in the sauce. (Or you saute everything separately and combine it at the end, or....) Good hot or cold, a classic summer combo.

* Baba ganoush. Cook the eggplants, puree the cooked eggplant, and now it's a dip.

* A southeast Asian recipe I found once was nothing more than ground beef stir-fried with eggplant, shot with some chili pepper, soy sauce and basil. Stir-fry it up and serve over rice. SO easy.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:50 AM on July 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

On the recipe front-- three little guys of that size will cook down to just about nothing, so I wouldn't really look to any recipe where eggplant is the centerpiece, unless you plan to supplement the amount you have. (I'm assuming you don't want to bother cooking up, like, three tablespoons of baba ghanoush.)
posted by threeants at 10:51 AM on July 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

Eggplant parm. Slice the eggplant in relatively thin (not paper thin) slices, coat in egg wash, dip in breadcrumbs or panko and fry, then layer in a casserole dish with sauce and cheese the way you would lasagna, and then bake. So delicious. Not sure how low fat it is. Instead of frying the eggplant, you could just bake it. And you don't even need cheese. My family doesn't include cheese, actually. You can just sprinkle some parmesean cheese on when serving. You can also fry/bake the eggplant and refrigerate and then make the lasagna-style eggplant parm casserole the next day or something. I love eggplant parm.
posted by AppleTurnover at 10:54 AM on July 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Baba ganoush is especially good with grilled eggplant.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:56 AM on July 18, 2014

Roast them with basil! Cut them into slices (or since they're small, just cut them in half). Salt them and let them drain for half an hour or so, then rinse and press them. Pop on a baking sheet, sprinkle with olive oil (and make sure the baking sheet is oiled too), and a bit of pepper if you like. Slip a basil leaf underneath each slice. Roast at 400C for about 15 minutes each side, or until they're golden brown. It sounds simple, but it tastes amazing.

(The basil is technically optional, but definitely makes it better!)
posted by snorkmaiden at 10:59 AM on July 18, 2014

400F, surely!
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:07 AM on July 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Not that I've ever done this, but it just occurred to me that it might be delicious to do something like this:

1. Cut the eggplants into a 1-inch dice
2. Toss with a generous pinch of salt (1-2t). Place in colander and let drain for 30 min.
3. In a non-stick pan heat 1t olive oil over medium heat
4. Rinse and pat dry eggplant
5. Add eggplant to oil, add some of your favorite spices (pepper, basil, oregano, thyme?), reduce to low heat, cover, and cook until eggplant is soft, maybe 5-7 min.
6. Prepare some eggs as if you're going to scramble them (because you are).
7. Raise heat back to medium, add eggs, and cook while stirring. Stop when the eggs are still very soft.

You could also cook the eggplant with some tomatoes and onions-- sort of like a scrambled-egg ratatouille.

Or you could just slide, brush with olive oil, and grill. That's good too.
posted by underthehat at 11:08 AM on July 18, 2014

You can cut small eggplants into thin slices and then stir-fry them until soft and brown in the middle. This is good with just about any sort of stir-fry you like to make--I sometimes substitute eggplant for chicken-- but be aware that eggplant soaks up flavor, so you might want to use a bit less sauce than usual.

I like roasted eggplant/ sauteed mushrooms/ pine-nuts as a flavor combination. If you grill your eggplant slices under the broiler, this speeds things up (just be careful not to burn them!) Note that you can freeze roasted eggplant slices, if you're not planning to use them immediately.
posted by yarntheory at 11:11 AM on July 18, 2014

Eggplant recipes from Smitten Kitchen :)
posted by gemutlichkeit at 11:13 AM on July 18, 2014

here's One Weird Trick that will make your general eggplanting life much easier: if you're sautéing/stir-frying eggplant, put the chopped pieces in a microwave for 5-10 minutes before you begin actually cooking. This softens them, so you can avoid that stressful period where your eggplant pieces are still hard and it feels like you have to feed them about 19 cups of oil to prevent burning in the pan. While generally, the idea of putting fresh local vegetables in the microwave sounds truly grotesque to me, with eggplant there's no real texture to ruin until you get it crisped up on the stove.
posted by threeants at 11:20 AM on July 18, 2014 [11 favorites]

Seconding microwave suggestion - it's Cooks Illustrated-recommended, for one thing, and IME it really cuts down cook-time and oil.
posted by Frowner at 11:32 AM on July 18, 2014

Only three little ones? I'd just put them in curry with other stuff.

The microwave trick is good; you can get the same result with steaming them for 10 minutes or so.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:38 AM on July 18, 2014

Oh - or batter and fry fairly thin slices in the batter (I like egg/panko, but tempura is good) of your choice with the frying method of your choice (I do 2" of fry-quality oil) and then just put them straight in your face the second they are cool enough to eat.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:40 AM on July 18, 2014

I really like to stuff eggplants that size. Cut in half, brush with oil, and roast, cut-side down, until squishy. Scoop out middle, and mix with whatever you like (I really like sautéed ground lamb and onion with tarragon, maybe some diced tomatoes and potatoes as well). Scoop filling back into shells, give a light dusting of a hard cheese, and return to oven until the tops are crisp.

Alternately, chunk, sautéed in oil with garlic and salt and cumin and crushed chile. Add a can of tomato purée and a few stems of mint. Simmer until the eggplant is tender, serve with rice (couscous for the gluten tolerant readers out there) and Greek yogurt. Stir a little salt and mint and lemon zest into the yogurt for extra awesome.

If you're careful about the oil, both of these are very healthy but incredibly rich tasting preparations.
posted by amelioration at 11:45 AM on July 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

I made a Vietnamese braised eggplant recipe almost identical to this (+ minced shallot added with the garlic) recently, and it was quite tasty. I used three Asian eggplants (which made two huge meals served over rice), so you'll want to scale accordingly.
posted by gueneverey at 12:22 PM on July 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

I made this a few weekends ago as a side and it was awesome!

- slice the eggplants into thin disks
- put eggplant into large tupperware with lid

add to tupperware:

- 1 bottle balsalmic vinegar
- 2-3 Tbspns (roughly) Worchestershire Sauce
- Generous amount of black cracked pepper
- Generous amount of ground sea salt
- 1 chopped head of garlic
- 4-5 sprigs of rosemary finely chopped
- 2-3 Tbspns (roughly) red wine vinegar
- 3-4 glugs olive oil
- coursely chopped raw red onion
- coursely chopped basil (I actually used the kind in tube and squeezed out three generous squeezes
- 1 tsp ground red pepper


Let it sit in the fridge for 1-2 days, giving it a good shake here and there.


serve over plain quinoa tossed with feta cheese (optional)
posted by floweredfish at 12:34 PM on July 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

I love eggplant on the grill. Slice into rounds, brush with olive oil and season as you like. I actually used a pork rub (I don't have a recipe, it's my brother's blend) last time and it was great.
posted by kathrynm at 12:50 PM on July 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

As an alternative to the microwave trick (I don't have one), soak the chopped eggplant in a big bowl of saltwater for about 10 min before cooking. It helps it steam itself, and helps stop it absorbing endless amounts of oil.

Japanese cooking does some good things with eggplant like grilling it and basting it with miso, or stir fry.
posted by jrobin276 at 12:51 PM on July 18, 2014

I hate the idea of taking some beautiful fresh produce and cooking the living shit out of them, but if you're looking for a really, really great eggplant recipe (and seriously, it's really, really great), Mario Batali's eggplant caponata is supremely tops.

Personally, I'd do something simple with it so it can express how fresh and good it is, like throw slices on the grill with salt and pepper and top with a splash of simple vinaigrette and some fresh chopped herbs like basil.
posted by General Malaise at 3:45 PM on July 18, 2014

If you make nothing else, make this great Persian-inspired dip! It only requires olive oil, eggplant, a few garlic bulbs, and a sweet onion. Oh, and your choice of greek yogurt or cannelini beans.

It will take about 1 hr to make but the prep is easier than it looks:

First, bake your garlic (two bulbs is best) - pull off the first layer of skin from the bulbs, slice off the very top of the bulb and then douse it with olive oil. Wrap in foil or place inside a terra cotta garlic baker, and bake for AT LEAST 1 hr at 350. I've found that if I bake it for closer to 75 minutes it comes out even better.

Slice your eggplant width-wise into several circles, each about 1/3-1/2 inch thick. Leave the skin on (it will peel off with ease after baking). Lay them on a foil-wrapped cookie sheet and brush generously with olive oil. Place in the same oven as the garlic and bake at 350 for about 40 minutes, or until soft and golden brown - time it to be done a little before the garlic is.

While all of that is going on, slice up an onion into lengthwise strips and throw in a dutch oven (or other wide pan with a lid) with olive oil (a little red wine vinegar and dried thyme can reaaaally help with the caramelization and flavor, but it's optional). Heat on low for an hour and stir occasionally, to caramelize them.

Now for the fun part. Once the onions are caramelized, take your baked garlic and pop it out of the bulb (it will come out very easy once baked) into the dutch oven with the onions. Then peel the skin from your eggplant and throw the eggplant flesh into the dutch oven. Mash with a potato masher until a good consistency, then add your plain greek yogurt or cannelini beans (I prefer the latter, it makes for a thicker dip and absorbs all the other flavors so well!)

Spread on toasted baguette or use as a dip for your favorite chip. Aggggh best dip ever!

Again, this might look labor intensive, but really it's just getting everything on the oven/stove top and letting it "do its thang" for an hour or so before you mix and mash it all up. It's fun for nights when you want something satisfying but more on the "set it and forget it" side.
posted by nightrecordings at 5:39 PM on July 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

a more traditional parmigiana recipe:
- slice the eggplants into discs
- salt these abundantly, and leave them pressed for half an hour, then press out their "water"
- fry the discs until blonde
- using a small casserole, starting with a layer of eggplant, alternate layers of slices of mozzarella, tomato sauce (preferably pummarola), abundant grated Parmesan, some basil leaves, then eggplant again and so on. (Last/top layer should be Parmesan.)
- bake in the oven until the water from the tomato sauce and from the mozzarella have cooked away, leaving the awesome amalgam that is a parmigiana.
posted by progosk at 9:14 AM on July 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

you can avoid the frying step by baking the discs (after the salt-purge), with just a brush of oil.

if you want something really interesting, try melanzane al cioccolato!
posted by progosk at 9:23 AM on July 19, 2014

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