Eggplant is funny looking vegetable. It’s black and looks like an incandescent light bulb. A lot of people are afraid to try eggplant and they shouldn’t be. It’s absolutely delicious if it’s cooked right. So how do you cook it?
A few years ago my parents were visiting and I had made them dinner. When I told my dad what I had prepared he made an “eww-yucky” face. I asked him what was wrong. He said he didn’t like eggplant, in particular he didn’t like the texture when chewing it. I promised him that my roast eggplant dish would be different and that he should try it.
Being a good father he ate every last bite. While he admitted it wasn’t his favourite vegetable, he enjoyed the entire meal.
This recipe is one of my favourites that I cook almost every week. It’s easy to prepare, it cooks in one pan, and it’s healthy.
Eggplant Cooking Tips
To cook eggplant well (so that it tastes yummy) you need moisture or extremely high heat.
The key is for the eggplant to fully absorb the liquid from the dish and to cook all the way through. This applies to my roast eggplant and bell peppers recipe, an eggplant parmesan, or an eggplant moussaka.
With my recipe you will need to toss and stir the mixture several times while cooking. The oven is a dry heat so you need to re-distribute the lemon juice, olive oil, and the liquid from the tomatoes over the eggplant. If you are baking a moussaka, the eggplant will absorb the oils from the cheese and the ground meat.
Eggplant tastes awesome on the BBQ
While away in Myrtle Beach this past July I decided to try something new. I sliced the eggplant crosswise so that each “circle” was about one inch think. I brushed a bit of olive oil on each side and put it directly on the grill. I cooked each piece about 5-minutes per side. I turned once more on each side until the eggplant changed colour and became soft and started to break apart on the grill.
The extra high heat of the BBQ kept the moisture inside the eggplant slices, cooking it perfectly.
There are many other wonderful ways to prepare eggplant. One of my favourite dips that doesn’t need any cooking at all is baba ganoush.
I hope that gives you a number of ideas for cooking the humble eggplant. Try out my recipe and please come back and rate it 5-starts if you loved it. 🙂
Cut the bell peppers in half and remove the stem and seeds by hand. Cut each half into quarters.
Cut the stem off the jalapeño pepper, cut in half length-wise, and remove the seeds with a paring knife. If you like it really hot then leave the seeds. Finely slice each half of the pepper.
Cut the stem off the egg plant and cut in half length-wise. Cut each half through the thickest part in the middle, as shown in the picture. Then cut the halfs into thirds length-wise, and then cut cross-wise into about one inch cubes.
Carefully slice the cherry tomatoes in half, length-wise. If you cut them across the middle they tend to squish all over the place.
Cut the lemon in half and use a juicer to get out all of the juice.
Put all of the vegetables into a large baking dish (a deep roasting pan, a Pyrex dish, or a large sauce pan like the one shown). You need something deep otherwise every time you stir the mix, food will fall out.
Add the salt, pepper, balsamic and drizzle the olive oil over top. I find the best way to combine everything is to use both hands, lifting from the bottom of the pan, to evenly coat all of the ingredients with the liquid.
Put the pan on the bottom or middle rack of the oven. Cook for 40-50 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven every 15 minutes and stir well to lift all the ingredients from the bottom of the pan to distribute the liquids.
In order not to have rubbery or chewy eggplant, it's important to keep the eggplant coated with the liquid to properly cook and soften. Remember to stir the dish well every 15 minutes.
How to test for doneness:
The inside flesh of raw eggplant is almost white. When fully cooked the eggplant is an even dark grey colour and almost "translucent". Take a look at the picture at the top of this post that shows the fully cooked dish. Don't be afraid to take out a piece of eggplant and try it — just blow on it first so you don't burn the inside of your mouth. It should be soft and tender and full of all the flavours from the seasonings.