I am not a fan of the larger varieties of eggplants (the purple, pear shaped ones), but I love the oriental eggplants (the ones that are the size and shape of eggs, and the long slender ones - in all colors green, white, pink,
purple, in solids or stripes).
My favorite way of making eggplant is to cut it into largish bite-sized chunks and shake in a ziploc bag or tupperware container with oil (enough to dampen and make the seasonings stick) and seasonings (I often use ranch dressing mix powder). Then I bake uncovered at about 450 degrees until the edges are dark, carmelized and crispy and the centers are really tender. For my tastes, they're cooked perfectly when they're starting ot look a little overdone.
Roasted eggplant is one of the foods I can make an entire meal out of. Which is good, because hubby hates any and all eggplant, so whenever I roast a batch, it's all mine.
My Etsy shop (currently closed for the summer)
As kaplods said you can season and bake it, which you can do tons of experimenting with to try different seasonings and glazes. You can also put them on kabobs and grill them - super yummy! I like to grill mine in the summertime. And for a less healthy option (which can be made healthy with some trimming here and there) you can oil and bread them and bake them (rather than fry them). There's also eggplant parm, but that's a bit of a difficult dish to make and takes a long time.
Yes, I do leave the skin on, and that's one of the reasons I prefer the smaller eggplants, thinner skins.
I've used all sorts of different seasonings, my own concoctions as well as premixed seasonings and seasoning packets.
We start our monthly grocery shopping at a store that is much like Big Lots, but privately owned. Salad dressings and seasoning mixes are common - and I've found that even the most horrible salad dressing usually makes a pretty good marinade, so I'm willing to gamble more (.49 for a bottle of salad dressing, instead of the much higher prices they'd be in the grocery store).
A couple times I found stuff I liked enough that when the overstock store ran out, to look for in the regular grocery store or health food store only to find out that my .49 salad dressing purchase retails for $8.
There's also a mexican seasoning mix Goya brand adobo
This thread made me think of that lovely spicy eggplant and tofu in garlic sauce that Panda Express makes. There are none around here so I guess I'll have to make it. I just found a recipe...
Eggplant and Tofu in Spicy Garlic Sauce
This Szechuan-style dish gets its heat from the chili sauce. Look for chili sauce or garlic chili sauce that has red chilies as its primary ingredient. Try to find the kind with the seeds intact, not the smoother type. Then adjust the amount to your desired level of spiciness.
1 pound tofu
3 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp dark sesame oil
4 small eggplants, about 1-1/2 pounds total, peeled and sliced into strips 2-inches long, 1-inch wide, and 1/4-inch thick
1/3 cup water
6-8 garlic cloves, minced--about 2 tbsp.
1-inch peeled fresh ginger, grated
3/4 cup vegetable broth
1 tbsp vegetarian hoisin sauce
3 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
1/2 tbsp dark sesame oil
1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 - 1 tsp hot chili-garlic sauce
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tomato, coarsely chopped
sprinkling of sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch slices and press them lightly between towels to get the moisture out. Combine the 3 tbsp. soy sauce with the 1/2 tsp. sesame oil. Dip each slice of tofu into the mixture and set on a plate.
Heat an oiled, non-stick skillet until hot. Place the tofu slices in the skillet and cook until browned. Turn over and brown the other sides. When the tofu is completely browned on both sides, remove it from the skillet and place it on a cutting board. Cut each slice into 8-10 cubes. Set aside.
Heat an oiled, non-stick wok and add the eggplant and 1/3 cup water. Cover and cook, stirring often, until eggplant begins to brown. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 2 more minutes.
Add all remaining ingredients except the tomato, sesame seeds, and tofu. Simmer until all the eggplant slices are completely cooked--they will be very soft and start to fall apart. Add the tofu cubes and tomato and cook until heated through. Serve over rice, sprinkled with sesame seeds.
Makes 4 servings. Each serving, without rice, contains 187 Calories (kcal); 8g Total Fat; (34% calories from fat); 12g Protein; 21g Carbohydrate; trace Cholesterol; 716mg Sodium; 6g Fiber.
I make caponata a lot; it is an Italian "antipasto". It has a zingy flavor which really hits the spot somehow for my hunger cravings. It is usually eaten as a side or with bread or in a pita, but I often put it on top a pita with a little feta and grill it as a pizza. Depending on how much olive oil you use, it runs about 100cal or less for a cup and is very filling.
The other ingredients can vary according to what veggies you have handy, like zucchini or mushroom; the base is onions, the eggplant, and tomato (fresh or canned). I put in a little tomato paste as well. The other important ingredient is balsamic vinegar, which is what makes it zesty and different from a regular tomato sauce.
So: eggplant, onion, garlic, tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, any other veggies you want to throw in. Red peppers and yellow peppers are really good.
Chop the eggplant into 1/2 chunks. I leave the skin on unless it looks really tough. If it is old (brownish seeds and empty holes inside), I salt it and let it drain for an hour. If you do this don't any more salt to the cooking.
Soften onions and garlic in 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat.
Add eggplant and any other veggies, cook 5 minutes while stirring to make sure it doesn't burn.
Add tomatoes/tomato paste. (If using canned tomatoes, use the juice also)
Cover and let cook on medium/low for 15-20 minutes or until eggplant is soft.
Stir and add about 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar and 1-2 tsp sugar or sugar substitute; a little salt and pepper.
If it seems too runny/watery, allow to cook a bit more until the juice evaporates. It will also thicken a bit in the fridge, so don't dry it out too much.
Serve warm or room temperature.
Plain grilled slabs of eggplant with salt and pepper, garlic and a brush of olive oil are also impressive arranged on a plate with other colorful grilled veggies. And you can use them hot or cold as a sandwich filling.
Also: google for "baba ghanoush" or "Poor man's caviar". This is basically eggplant, along with onion, garlic and other veggies, roasted/baked in the oven until soft, and then pureed as a dip or sandwich filling. You can also add a Tbsp of Greek yogurt to make it creamy: extremely addictive. Make sure to puncture holes in the eggplant before baking or it will explode, making a very impressive "whoomp" noise and a big mess in the oven. Do not ask me how I know this.
This is my favourite eggplant recipe. It's a summer staple at our house.
1 tablespoon canola oil
1-inch piece fresh ginger, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 medium eggplant, ends trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices, lengthwise
6 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro leaves
Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the ginger, garlic and red chili flakes and cook until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the hoisin, vinegar and soy sauce until combined and then strain, reserving the sauce.
Heat grill to high.
Brush eggplant slices on both sides with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the slices on the grill and grill until golden brown and slighty charred, 4 to 5 minutes. Brush with some of the glaze, turn over and continue grilling just until cooked through, brushing with more of the glaze, 3 to 4 minutes longer. Remove from the grill and brush with the remaining glaze. Transfer to a platter and sprinkle with the cilantro.
Agreeing with others, I love roasted eggplant. When it's in season, I sautee it with an egg for breakfast, stir it into a salad with fresh tomatoes for lunch, and use it on pizza (especially fun with slices of the skinny ones) for supper. Now, I'm ready for summer!