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Easiest ways to prepare and cook Eggplant:

Updated on October 22, 2014

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.

  1. To prepare: Pare the eggplant and slice (about a 1/3 inch thick).
  2. Dip the slices in egg and then roll in breadcrumbs or flour.
  3. You can bake these slices for about 20 minutes on a greased or non-stick baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees.
  4. Then take a lasagna or casserole pan and put a 1/3 of a jar of spaghetti sauce as the bottom layer.
  5. Place the eggplant slices on top of the sauce and add mozzarella or cheese of your choice on top of the eggplant.
  6. Add another layer of sauce, eggplant and cheese. Repeat as many times as you like (I usually do 3-4 layers of eggplant).
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

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    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Thanks for this information on the eggplant. I never knew how to tell before if it was ripe or not. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • mpropp profile image
      Author

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      My pleasure alocsin. I tend to leave them out in the garden too long, hoping they will get bigger! But bigger isn't always better...

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi mpropp,

      I am growing the Chinese eggplants this year in my garden and like you say...they grow quickly. I have grown the kind you are growing also in years past. You might want to check out my hubs with eggplant. If you are not vegetarian, you might like the one titled wonderful steak eggplant casserole recipe. Another way I am using our bumper crop of eggplants is featured in a hub called everyday Italian - Italian sandwich and/or pizza using eggplant. The nice thing about eggplants is that they are so versatile! Voted up and useful. Tweeting!

    • mpropp profile image
      Author

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Peggy, I will definitely check out your eggplant hubs. I am not a vegetarian and all ideas are greatly appreciated! We ended up dehydrating a lot of them, with the hopes of being able to drop them into soups and stews this winter. Unfortunately, the growing season is shorter here in Minnesota....but I bet they just keep growing all year-round for you? Thanks again for your nice comments.

    • Rfordin profile image

      Rfordin 4 years ago from Florida

      Hmmm interesting, my g/f loves eggplant parmesan (sp?) and I often struggle with a recipe that my kids will eat unknowingly. I might have to check out your eggplant recipe next time I make it for her.

      ~Becky

    • mpropp profile image
      Author

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      My boys weren't too sure about eggplant either, but they do like the eggplant parmesan. Actually, you should check out Peggy W's hub mentioned above in the comments. I bet adding it to their pizza would be a good way to introduce this "strange" vegetable. Thanks for the comment!

    • Miss Mimi profile image

      Miss Mimi 4 years ago from On the road again

      Nice! As a vegetarian, I eat eggplant all the time. When people who are not vegetarian invite me for dinner, they often ask me for recipes and suggestions, and this eggplant parmesan would be a great recipe for that; simple and definitely feels like a main course even though there's no meat! Thanks for sharing, voted up!

    • mpropp profile image
      Author

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Thank you Miss Mimi for your comment! For some reason, eggplant is so hardy that it makes a great "meat substitute" in many recipes. Thanks again for your positive feedback.

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      great hub, great ideas. I love baba ghanoush and usually buy it. with your recipe, I may just try it! Thank you!

    • mpropp profile image
      Author

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Thanks btrbell for your comments. I just love saying baba ghanoush...and I agree, its very tasty. I wish you success in your atttempt!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I adore eggplant! I've been eating a good bit of it lately, as it is readily available at work. Since I am a vegetarian, it works out very well for me.

    • mpropp profile image
      Author

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      It really is a very versatile, good for you, and seems to be a really good meat substitute for a lot of recipes. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I appreciate it!

    • JanMaklak profile image

      JanMaklak 4 years ago from Canada

      Great Eggplant recipe similar to what I make now. I don't know why more people don't cook with it. I could live on this stuff. BTW I have an eggplant/tomato sauce recipe I'll share sometime soon for you

    • mpropp profile image
      Author

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Yum, eggplant/tomato sauce sounds great! I agree, eggplant is great tasting and very good for you--I'm surprised it isn't more popular...maybe it's a bit intimidating until you try it. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 16 months ago from Brazil

      Where I live in Brazil, there aren't a lot of veg options. Fruit yes but not veg. However we do get eggplant and it is usually good quality. I am always looking for new ways to prepare it. I will bookmark this and work through the list.

      Thanks for the inspiration.

    • mpropp profile image
      Author

      Melissa Propp 16 months ago from Minnesota

      I hope you find some recipes you enjoy! And thanks for commenting, I didn't realize that vegetable varieties were scarcer in Brazil. That is fascinating, that we can be in such different parts of the world and still share the same crops, though...

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