Easiest ways to prepare and cook Eggplant:
Got eggplant, now what?
I am by no means an accomplished chef or skilled gardener, but I do like to try to grow vegetables in our small garden and I'm reasonably successful. We grow lots of tomatoes and peppers, of several varieties. These are easy to use, as my husband makes an awesome fresh salsa that is out of this world! Another thing that seems to grow extemely well in our garden is eggplant.
These lovely dark purple nightshades seem to multiply like rabbits and I'm left wondering what in the world to do with them! To say that I am a "novice" in the kitchen might be a slightly kinder description than I deserve...So if you are a gourmet chef, don't waste your time reading this. But, if you are looking for some simple and easy ways to prepare your eggplant, then please continue.
How to know if your Eggplant is ripe
Eggplants grow very quickly and if allowed to continue growing, they can get quite large. The larger-sized ones tend to be more bitter than the smaller ones, so I try to pick them before they become too big. The whole eggplant should be a shiny dark purple. When you press on the skin, it should be slightly spongy, but your indent should bounce back when you remove your finger. If it is too mushy, then that is a good sign it is past its prime. Another sign that it might be overly-ripe is to cut it open and examine the seeds. Dark brown seeds means its too ripe.
Preparing the Eggplant for eating
Like almost any kind of vegetable (eggplant is technically a fruit, but lets not get hung up on details), you can prepare it several ways. The most common methods are baking, frying, boiling, and steaming.
Most recipes ask you to remove the skins (if you see the recipe requests you to "pare" your eggplant--that just means remove skin). Then you can slice, cube, shred or mash (puree if you are fancy!) according to the recipe.
What ever method you decide to use, just know that once you cut into the eggplant, it will begin to discolor rather quickly. You should wait to peel and slice the eggplant until shortly before using them.
Easy Eggplant Parmisan
Perhaps I like making it because it sounds fancy, but the classic eggplant parmisan is so simple that even I was able to wing it without an established recipe. The only ingredients you really need are eggplant, egg, flour or breadcrumbs, spaghetti sauce, cheese, and seasoning of your choice.
- To prepare: Pare the eggplant and slice (about a 1/3 inch thick).
- Dip the slices in egg and then roll in breadcrumbs or flour.
- You can bake these slices for about 20 minutes on a greased or non-stick baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees.
- Then take a lasagna or casserole pan and put a 1/3 of a jar of spaghetti sauce as the bottom layer.
- Place the eggplant slices on top of the sauce and add mozzarella or cheese of your choice on top of the eggplant.
- Add another layer of sauce, eggplant and cheese. Repeat as many times as you like (I usually do 3-4 layers of eggplant).
- For the top layer, you can sprinkle parmesan cheese on top, along with any other spices you might like. Personally, I'm a big fan of pepper and garlic salt.
- Put the dish back into the oven and back for another 20 minutes or so, until the cheese is nicely melted and starting to brown.
Try this easy dehydrator recipe
This may have more than 6 ingredients, but there is nothing more simple than making treats in your dehydrator. These parmesan chips only lasted about 2 days in our household!
Simple recipes with 6 ingredients or less
Searching through cook books and recipes on the web, I found hundreds of recipes for eggplant. Unfortunately, a lot of them are very complicated with lists of gourmet ingredients that this chef doesn't have on her shelf...To match my level of expertise, I looked for simple recipes that asked for 6 ingredients or less (with the main ingredient being the lovely eggplant). This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it give you a few easy options. See the links below for easy recipes with common ingredients.