How to Cook Eggplant

 
Sometimes produce can be puzzling. Maybe you always thought about grabbing a big purple eggplant from the grocery store or farmer’s market, but you weren’t actually sure what to do with it. Let’s walk through a few different ways to cook eggplant—you pick your favorite.

I’ll come clean; fried eggplant is actually my favorite. With plenty of cheese and tomato sauce? That’s eggplant heaven right there. You can never go wrong with lightly breaded and pan fried.

There are other delicious ways to get creative with an eggplant though, and all of them start with proper preparation. Once over the prep hurdle, you can grill them, roast them, sauté them or even microwave them!
 

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1 CUT AND PEEL

First, cut the ends off your eggplant, then cut it in half and use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin. After peeling the eggplant, cut it into slices about 1/3 of an inch thick.
 

TIP
The smaller the eggplant, the better it will taste! Eggplants are in season in the late summer, though you can find them all year long. Larger eggplants should always be peeled, but smaller eggplants can keep their skin.
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2 SALT

Sprinkle salt on both sides of your eggplant slices, then lay them out flat. Cover with another paper towel and place a baking sheet on top to weigh them down. The salt will pull the moisture from the eggplant, making it easier to cook. For a larger eggplant, this helps to remove any bitterness that can be lurking. Let the slices sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove them from the paper towels, rinse, and pat dry.
 

3 COOK

To GRILL your eggplant, brush the slices with a little oil or butter (I prefer olive oil), and then place it directly on the grill. Cook for about 5 minutes (or until you have pretty grill marks) on the first side. Turn it and cook for another 3 or 4 minutes. This method will work for grill pans as well as gas and charcoal grills.
 
To ROAST your eggplant, you may opt to cut it in cubes instead of slices. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Toss your eggplant with just enough olive oil to lightly coat it. Spread it in a single layer across a lightly oiled baking sheet (or line with parchment paper for easy clean up). Season with salt, pepper, garlic or any other spice blends you’d like to try. Eggplant is versatile! Roast for about 20 minutes or until the eggplant is tender, turning the pieces once about halfway through.
 

To PAN FRY or SAUTÉ your eggplant, dip your slices in buttermilk (this is my secret delicious weapon—hold it near and dear!) and then dredge them in a mixture of breadcrumbs, flour, and Parmesan cheese. This recipe for breaded eggplant is a good one! Drop your slices a few at a time in a shallow pan with just enough hot oil to cover the bottom. Cook for 1-2 minutes over medium heat and then turn. Cook 1-2 minutes on the second side. Place the eggplant on paper towels before serving to absorb excess oil.
 
To MICROWAVE your eggplant place it in a microwave-safe dish with about 2 tablespoons of water. Cook on high for 6-8 minutes, stirring halfway through. You are looking for the eggplant to be tender.
 
Enjoy!

Want more? Watch this video all about eggplant!
 

About Heather T.

Heather, who runs SugarDishMe.com, has been making messes in the kitchen since she was a little kid when her mom handed her a cook book and told her, “If you can read, you can cook.” Today she serves up fresh, healthy eats, easy weeknight meals and decadent sweet treats.