Cooking With Eggplant

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Eggplant, a cousin to tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes, gets its name from the first varieties of its kind, which were white, round, and egg-size. Today, not only do they come in green and deep purple, but generally are much larger. Although available year-round, they are most abundant from July to October. Search for firm eggplants that feel heavy for their size and have smooth, shiny skins and bright green stems.

This shiny, purple veggie is the perfect base for meatless dishes or a welcomed addition to burgers, seafood dishes, and pastas. When it’s raw, eggplant is spongy and plain, but once it’s roasted, grilled, sautéed, or stir-fried, it comes into its full glory: tender, creamy flesh with a satisfying meatiness. This makes eggplant ideal for meatless sandwiches or chicken Parmesan-style dishes. It’s equally delicious when grilled and drizzled with a simple vinaigrette for a warm side salad or slow roasted with a sprinkling of fresh herbs and a squeeze of zesty lemon juice. Pick one up at the farmers’ market or grocery store and see how it shines in these recipes.

Eggplant and Zucchini Parmesan

Cooking spray

1 (1-pound) eggplant

2 teaspoons water

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 1/2 cups panko

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1 medium zucchini, trimmed and cut diagonally into 12 slices

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup lower-sodium marinara sauce

2 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 1/2 cup)

4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 475°.

Place a wire rack on a baking sheet. Coat rack with cooking spray. Cut top and bottom off eggplant. Partially peel eggplant lengthwise with a vegetable peeler, leaving long purple stripes. Cut eggplant crosswise into 8 slices. Combine 2 teaspoons water and eggs in a shallow dish, stirring with a whisk. Combine panko and Parmesan in a shallow dish. Dip eggplant and zucchini in egg mixture. Dredge in panko mixture, gently pressing mixture to adhere. Arrange eggplant and zucchini on prepared rack; coat with cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with salt. Bake at 475° for 10 minutes.

Turn eggplant and zucchini; top eggplant and zucchini slices evenly with marinara sauce and mozzarella. Bake at 475° for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and lightly browned. Arrange on a serving platter; drizzle with oil.

Serves 4, each serving contains: Calories 291, Fat 12.4 g, Protein 15 g, Carbohydrate 32 g,

Fiber 8 g, Cholesterol 104 mg, Sodium 384 mg.

Eggplant with Capers and Red Peppers

1 medium eggplant (about 1 1/4 pounds)

1 medium red bell pepper

1/4 cup finely chopped red onion

3 tablespoons capers

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 garlic cloves, minced

Preheat broiler.

Pierce eggplant several times with a fork; place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil 30 minutes or until blackened, turning frequently. Cool eggplant slightly; peel and chop.

Cut bell pepper in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place pepper halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet; flatten with hand. Broil 15 minutes or until blackened. Place in a zip-top plastic bag; seal. Let stand 15 minutes. Peel and chop.

Combine eggplant, bell pepper, onion, and remaining ingredients in a medium bowl; toss well.

Serves 8, as a side-dish, each serving contains: Calories 43, Fat 2 g, Protein 1.2 g, Carbohydrate 6.6 g, Fiber 3.1 g, Cholesterol 0.0 mg, Sodium 172 mg.

Eggplant Salsa

1 large eggplant (about 1 1⁄2 pounds)

1/2 small onion, finely chopped (1⁄4 cup)

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus more for serving

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon mayonnaise (optional)

Kosher salt and black pepper

Chips, Crackers, or cut-up vegetables, for serving

 

Heat oven to 400° F. Using a fork, prick the eggplant all over. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast until very tender, 50 to 60 minutes.

When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, halve it lengthwise and scrape out the flesh, discarding the skin. Finely chop the flesh and transfer it to a large bowl.

Add the onion, garlic, parsley, oil, vinegar, mayonnaise (if using), ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and mix to combine. Sprinkle with additional parsley and serve with the bread and vegetables, if desired. Yields 1 ½ cups.

Eggplant, Zucchini, and Tomato Bake

1 pound eggplant, cut diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick slices

1 pound zucchini, cut diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick slices

Cooking spray

1 pound large beefsteak tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1/4 teaspoon salt, divided

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

4 ounces French bread baguette

1 cup (4 ounces) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano

1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

Preheat oven to 375°. Arrange eggplant and zucchini in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Lightly coat vegetables with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 15 minutes. Arrange half of eggplant in a single layer in an 11 x 7-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with half of zucchini and half of tomato. Drizzle 2 1/4 teaspoons oil evenly over vegetables. Sprinkle vegetables evenly with 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper.

Place bread in a food processor; process until coarse crumbs measure 2 cups. Add cheese and next 4 ingredients (through garlic) to processor; process until combined. Sprinkle 1 1/2 cups breadcrumb mixture evenly over tomato. Repeat layers with remaining eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, oil, salt, pepper, and breadcrumb mixture. Pour broth over top. Bake at 375° for 1 hour or until vegetables are tender and topping is browned.

Serves 8, each serving contains: Calories 191, Fat 8.1 g, Protein 10 g, Carbohydrate 22.3 g,

Fiber 4 g, Cholesterol 12 mg, Sodium 459 mg.

Penne with Sausage, Eggplant, and Feta

4 1/2 cups cubed peeled eggplant (about 1 pound)

1/2 pound bulk pork breakfast sausage

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained

6 cups hot cooked penne (about 10 ounces uncooked tube-shaped pasta)

1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Cook eggplant, sausage, and garlic in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until sausage is browned and eggplant is tender. Add tomato paste and the next 3 ingredients (through tomatoes); cook over medium heat 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Place pasta in a large bowl. Add tomato mixture, cheese, and parsley; toss well.

Serves 4, each serving contains: Calories 535, Fat 18.9 g, Protein 25.5 g, Carbohydrate 67.5 g,

Fiber 4.6 g, Cholesterol 57 mg, Sodium 884 mg.

Written By

Photo of Tammy Kelly, Ed. DTammy Kelly, Ed. DCounty Extension Director (252) 527-2191 tammy_kelly@ncsu.eduLenoir County, North Carolina
Posted on Sep 12, 2016
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