How to Love Eggplant

Eggplant. It's already weird on its own and then once you cook it, it becomes an amorphous blob on your plate. Eggplant is the cockroach of produce. But cockroaches don't bite or sting or make annoying sounds. They really are the least harmful of pests, but they gets a bad rap because of its unattractive armor. Who are we to discriminate?

Eggplants, also known as aubergines, actually have so much to offer and its beauty lies much deeper than its skin.

The word eggplant actually comes from the first plant which was seen with the small, oval, white fruits, shaped like, well - eggs! Later, other species were discovered such as the purple and dark-skinned fruits more commonly seen here in the US.

If you aren't too familiar with this vegetable/fruit, it is known to have a very mild and sweet flesh. The best part about its spongy mild-tasting flesh is that it will be the chameleon of your dish, taking on the flavors echoed in the rest of the pot. This characteristic makes it an excellent meat substitute.

Here are 4 international dishes which made me convert from anti-eggplant to phil-eggplant-ist:


1) Eggplant Curry with Toasted Almonds "Curry-in-a-Hurry" by Rachael Ray

I believe this recipe is meant to duplicate a somewhat labor intensive north Indian dish called Baingan Bhartha, but she's condensed it into a 30-minute meal...and she's done it brilliantly. She eliminates the traditional step of roasting the eggplant for an hour (which sweetens the flesh and adds a smoky flavor) and sweetens the curry with Mango Chutney. This recipe is a regular in the RFR kitchen. (A more labor intensive recipe can be found at Show Me The Curry and follow it to a 'T').

1 1/2 cups jasmine rice, cooked to directions on package
2 tablespoons (2 turns around the pan in a slow, steady stream) extra-virgin olive oil
1 large, firm eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large, yellow skinned onion, peeled and chopped
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and diced
4 cloves garlic, cracked away from skin with a whack between flat of knife and heel of hand
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup (a couple of heaping tablespoons) mango chutney
1 rounded tablespoon mild curry paste or 2 tablespoons (a generous palm full) curry powder
Coarse salt
1 cup vegetable broth or stock
A handful (about 2 tablespoons) cilantro leaves, finely chopped, optional
Toasted sliced or slivered almonds
Thinly sliced scallions or chopped fresh chives


Prepare rice. While rice is simmering, start curry.

Heat a deep, heavy bottomed nonstick skillet over medium to medium high heat. When the pan is hot, add oil, eggplant, onion, and bell pepper. Cover pan and cook 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and add garlic; cook 1 minute more. Add tomatoes, chutney, curry, salt, and broth. Stir to combine and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes over low heat for flavors to combine. Remove curry from heat and stir in cilantro. Ladle eggplant curry into shallow bowls. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop rice balls into the center of bowls. Garnish your the and rice with lots of toasted sliced almonds and scallions or chives.


2) Ellie Krieger's Baba Ganoush

This is a flavorful appetizer which will please your guests

1 large eggplant (about 1 pound)
1 glove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Prick eggplant with a fork and place on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Bake the eggplant until it is soft inside, about 20 minutes. Alternatively, grill the eggplant over a gas grill, rotating it around until the skin is completely charred, about 10 minutes. Let the eggplant cool. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise, drain off the liquid, and scoop the pulp into a food processor. Process the eggplant until smooth and transfer to a medium bowl.
On a cutting board, work garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt together with the flat side of a knife, until it forms a paste. Add the garlic-salt mixture to the eggplant. Stir in the parsley, tahini, and lemon juice. Season with more salt, to taste. Garnish with additional parsley.

3) Melitzanosalata (Eggplant Salad/Dip)
This is a dish that's often served as a puree dip, but it looks much more beautiful without the blender work. Make art of the eggplant flesh wading in in the parsley and olive oil.
1 large eggplant
1 clove garlic
flat leaf parsley
salt & pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Roast the eggplant (whole) in the oven for 1 hour at 400 degrees. Remove from oven and cool for 10 mins. Make a long slit in the eggplant. Using a fork, remove the flesh in shreds onto a shallow plate. Avoid the seeds if possible. Seeds add bitter taste, but some seeds are okay. The flesh should still be sweet and smoky to overpower any bitterness. Add the other ingredients, once theh eggplant is completely cool. Serve at room temp with seasoned flatbread or sliced baguettes.


Rose Elliot is my favorite vegetarian cookbook author.

Preparation time 15 minutes, Cooking Time 30 minutes

Serves 4

1 large red onion, peeled and cut into chunks
1 large courgette cut into chunky pieces
1 large aubergine, cut into chunky pieces
2 red peppers, de-seeded and cut into chunks
2 golden peppers, de-seeded and cut into chunks
8 garlic cloves, peeled
juice of ½ lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
425g can plum tomatoes
several sprigs of fresh basil

A substantial ratatouille that practically makes itself… great for lazy summer days. A variation is to add a drained can of white or red beans 10 minutes before it’s cooked. You can also spice it up by stirring in a spoonful or two of garam masala when you add the tomatoes. Serve with warm bread, cooked rice, couscous or any other grain your fancy, such as quinoa, buckwheat or millet..
Put all the vegetables into a roasting tray or large shallow casserole, sprinkle with the lemon juice, oil and some salt and pepper. Mix with your hands so that all the vegetables get coated.
Bake, uncovered, in the oven preheated to 350 F for 20 minutes, giving the vegetables a stir after about 10 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and cook for a further 15-20 minutes.
Season with more salt and pepper if necessary, tear the basil over the top and serve.


  1. "Eggplant is the cockroach of produce."
    I LOVE IT!
    Can't wait to try "Curry in a Hurry".

  2. haha! glad you liked it! you'll love Rachael's Ray's Curry in a hurry. it's quick and easy and yummy!

  3. i got a white and purple eggplant in my farm delivery and cooked it today as part of a persian meal; made a 'salad' from cookbook author anissa helou; all the photos look great in this post!!

  4. i cant thank you enough for this post! i am slowly becoming an eggplant convert :)


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