Are you new to eggplant? Read here to find out how to cook eggplant in three easy ways and discover some tasty eggplant recipes.
So often, it can be easy to pass up certain fruits and vegetables out of habit at the grocery store. If you typically stick to the same grocery list, the odds are that you might not be reaching for eggplant. Maybe trying new foods isn't something you often do.
On the other hand, perhaps you've tried it before and love eggplant! Whether you're brand new to this food or have been enjoying this vegetable's taste for years, keep reading! We'll walk through a few of the easiest ways to cook this vegetable. Then, we'll show you some of our favorite recipes to follow when you want to enjoy eggplant in your meals.
What Is Eggplant?
Before we discuss how to cook eggplant, let's go over this food to learn more about it. Eggplant is a type of vegetable that belongs to the nightshade family. Nightshade plants include zucchini, okra, and chili peppers.
These veggies tend to flourish in the summer and can grow in many sizes and shapes. Their seeds are edible, making them even easier to deal with when using them to prepare a meal.
How Does Eggplant Taste?
Have you ever tasted zucchini or squash? These mild, slightly sweet, and bitter vegetables offer a similar taste to eggplant. Eggplant tends to be very durable, and it can absorb the flavor of whatever liquid you cook it in.
The difference in size and appearance between eggplants can indicate slightly different flavors. For instance, larger, more wrinkly eggplants may have a more bitter flavor, while smaller ones with smooth, shiny skin maintain a slightly sweet flavor.
What Are The Health Benefits of Eggplant?
If you're considering trying this food as a side dish or main event, you'll probably do so for the taste. However, eating eggplants may offer potential health benefits, too! Let's see what eggplants bring to the table concerning your health.
First, eggplants are rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants are valuable because they help defend your body from harmful substances known as free radicals. This protection may help ward off types of disease and support your heart health.
High in Nutrients
In addition to containing antioxidants that help neutralize free radicals, eggplant also packs a wealth of nutrients. Here are some of the nutrients you can expect when eating eggplant:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin K
You can eat as much eggplant as you want! With every bite, you'll benefit from the nutrients it has to offer.
May Help Blood Sugar Control
Eggplant is high in nutritious value, and it may be able to help you support your blood sugar. Here's how.
Eggplant is high in fiber, which may lower blood sugar in your body. This fiber slows the rate of digestion and absorption of sugars to help keep your blood sugar level steady.
Three Easy Ways To Cook Eggplant
Feeling adventurous? When you're ready to try eggplant, keep in mind that there are multiple ways you can enjoy this vegetable! Keep reading to see how you can prepare eggplant to find the option that works best for you.
Preparing the Eggplant
Before you cook your eggplant, you can prepare it for cooking in various ways. Here are some basic steps:
- Cut or slice the eggplant: You can dice your eggplant or thinly slice it for ratatouille or eggplant parm!
- Salt the eggplant: This removes excess moisture from the eggplant which improves its texture. Toss your eggplant with kosher salt and let it "sweat" over a perforated dish, strainer or colander for 30 minutes. Blot the eggplant with a paper towel or clean dish towel to soak up the moisture.
Ready to cook your eggplant? The first way you can cook this vegetable is by broiling it. This option may be one of the quickest ways to enjoy this vegetable.
Toss sliced eggplant in a bit of olive oil. Arrange the eggplant on a broiling pan or baking tray. Using your oven's broiler, cook the eggplant for 4-6 minutes. You'll have golden-brown eggplant in no time. Pro-tip, sprinkle some parmesan on top of the eggplant and broil for 1 additional minute.
Try another broiling method with a full eggplant. Pierce a few holes around the eggplant with a fork. Place the the whole eggplant on a broiling pan and into the oven. Broil on one side until you see the skin begin to char. Carefully rotate the eggplant with tongs and repeat until the whole eggplant is smokey and charred on the outside. Remove the charred eggplant and set into a strainer over a bowl. Let the juices flow out. Once cool enough to touch, tear or slice open the eggplant. Season with salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Enjoy with some crusty bread!
For this cooking method, you'll want to avoid cutting your eggplant first. Simply poke several holes all over your eggplant and then place it on a baking tray in the oven. After 45 minutes to an hour, your baked eggplant will develop a soft, buttery texture.
Air Fryer Eggplant
Do you have an air fryer in the house? If so, this kitchen appliance can help you enjoy another way to prepare eggplant in a flash.
For this option, dealing with circular slices of eggplant is easiest. Preheat your air fryer, and then lay your circular pieces in a single layer in your air fryer's basket. Then, cook it at 400º for 20 minutes, flipping it halfway.
You may have to cook these in a few batches, but air frying eggplant is a delicious way to enjoy its soft texture with a bit of crispiness.
You can have these crispy slices with a little marinara sauce for a quick snack or put them in an airtight container and use them in a recipe later.