Eggplant is an incredibly versatile dish. It can be roasted, grilled, sauteed, and pureed. However, if you make a couple of simple errors you can ruin your eggplant dish. Depending on how you want to eat your eggplant will impact your decision on cooking method and how you prepare your eggplant. Follow our guidelines for simple and delicious eggplant, every time.
Salt to the rescue
The key to successful eggplant is salt. Raw eggplant is 92% water and you need to extract some of this water to ensure your finished dish is not too mushy. To do this you should sprinkle a lot of salt on the eggplant. Then leave it to extract the moisture for about one hour to 90 minutes. After only 20 minutes you will see the beads of water start to form. Ensure you do this on a tray that allows the excess water to run off somewhere. While you may be concerned about all that salt you are pouring on your healthy vegetable, you can relax, after the wait time, you can give your eggplant a quick rinse to lose the salt and simply dab with kitchen paper to keep it dry. If you are making a dish where you want the eggplant to be mushy, maybe for a stew, then skip this step.
The key is in the cut
Whatever dish you choose to make should impact your decision on how to cut the eggplant. If you are making a vegetarian lasagne, for example, the eggplant could act as the sheets. For this, you can cut the eggplant lengthways into very thin sheets. If it is a more classic dish then cutting the eggplant sideways into circles is my favorite. For some pasta though it is best to cube the eggplant so it doesn’t dominate a dish too much.
Roast your eggplant
If you choose to roast your eggplant then you are in for a treat. The key here is to flip your eggplant during the roast to keep them from steaming and don’t put too much food in the pan. Eggplants encourage social distancing, they need some space.
Cut the eggplant in whatever way you require, then put some salt and pepper on top as well as a nice drizzle of olive oil. A higher temperature for eggplant is advised as you want them to cook quickly. Of course, you can also roast them whole, but if you do this make sure you poke the outside so that steam can escape. This is a great idea if you are making a puree.
To saute or not to saute
Sauteeing your vegetables is always a nice option. If you choose to saute your eggplant just be wary of one thing. It may take some time as the eggplant must first get rid of its water. So prepare to give the cooking time a little longer than you would expect with other vegetables. Once it is starting to brown you know you are nearly there.
What about the grill?
Grilled eggplant is amazing, we particularly love eggplant skewers but there any way you grill it is a good way. Ensure you oil the grates of the grill to avoid the eggplant sticking and cook at a medium temperature or the outside will burn without the inside cooking at all.
What about puree?
Yes, yes, and yes. Baba ganoush is our favorite thing to do with pureed eggplant. Simply take small batches and throw them in your food processor to get a nice puree. Mix with tahini, olive oil, lemon, and garlic to get a smooth ganoush.