The eggplant, also known as brinjal or aubergine, a native of India is an elongated purplish-colored vegetable. Brinjal is known as eggplant in the United States and Canada due to its shape and resemblance to a hen's eggs. It was first introduced by the Spaniards in America. The eggplant that grows in two varieties, purple and white, was used as an ornamental plant in the United States. Now, people use it as vegetable in various dishes. I've given a few ways, which I am sure you will enjoy not only making but eating them too.
In the Oven
The best way to cook eggplant is to roast it in an oven. Use large slices in order to get the best result. If you want to bake the vegetable, peel the skin and soak it in salted water for about 15 minutes. This will help reduce the bitter flavor. After the water has drained, pierce the eggplant and bake it in a preheated oven at 347 °F. You can even roast it without peeling the skin.
- Medium-sized eggplant, 1
- Italian breadcrumbs, 1 cup
- Shredded Parmesan cheese, ½ cup
- Olive oil, 2 tablespoons
- Butter, ½ cup
- Homemade spaghetti sauce, 1½ tablespoons
- Salt to taste
Melt the butter in a shallow skillet and mix olive oil with it. Cut the eggplant in thin slices and dip them into the butter-oil mixture. Dip these greased slices into breadcrumbs and place it on the greased baking tray. Apply the spaghetti sauce on the slices and cover them with shredded cheese. Bake it in a preheated oven at 374 °F till the slices turn tender. Garnish it with remaining cheese and serve with spaghetti sauce.
On the Grill
To cook the eggplant on the grill, pierce it with a skewer and cook it on the fire for 15 minutes till the outer skin turns black and the flesh is cooked thoroughly. The smoky taste will enhance the flavor of the eggplant. Peel the outer skin and transfer the flesh in a strainer to remove the moisture. You can try this recipe to grill the eggplant and make it deliciously crispy.
Grilled Eggplant with Linguini and Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese
- Medium-sized eggplants, 3
- Linguini, 1 pound
- Olive oil, ¾ cup
- Pine nuts, ¼ cup
- Pinch of oregano
- Garlic cloves, thinly sliced, 5
- Pepper, 1 teaspoon
- Basil, finely chopped, 1½ teaspoons
- Sun-dried tomatoes, 3
- Chopped parsley, 2 teaspoons
- Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, ½ cup
- Salt to taste
Grill the eggplants whole on medium fire for about 20 minutes till the outer skin turns black and the flesh is cooked. Soak the sun dried tomatoes in a bowl of water until they become soft, and chop them into cubes. In a skillet, pour 3 teaspoons of olive oil and add garlic, oregano, tomatoes, and basil and sauté till the garlic turns golden brown. In a pan, cook the pasta in salted water and olive oil till it becomes firm. Skin the eggplant and transfer the flesh into a bowl and add pepper and salt and mix them properly. Transfer the flesh into the skillet and add pine nuts and cook for about 5 minutes. Toss in the parsley and remove from the burner. Top this mixture on the pasta and garnish with the grated cheese and serve with red wine.
Health-conscious people usually prefer using less or no oil in their recipes. Eggplants are cooked either on nonstick pans using less oil or are steamed. There are many ways to steam the vegetable. You can either slice it or steam it whole. A standard pot with a removable steamer basket or a perforated double-layer pot would be just fine. Fill the bottom layer of the pot with water (up to 1 inch). Place the eggplant (whole or slices) in the basket and place it in the pot. Over high heat, bring the water to a boil. Once the water starts bubbling, cover the pot and allow the vegetable to cook for about 10 minutes. Make sure you don't overcook.
- Japanese eggplants, 5
- Soy sauce, 2 tablespoons
- Red rice vinegar, 1½ tablespoons
- Granulated sugar, ½ teaspoon
- A dash of sesame oil, if required
Cut the eggplants into half and steam them until the flesh becomes soft. In a separate bowl, add soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, sesame oil (if needed) and mix them till they blend well. Pour this mixture on top of the steamed eggplants and serve.
In the Microwave
Cooking eggplant in microwave takes less time than other methods of cooking. The nutrients in the eggplant and the taste of the ingredients are also retained while cooking in microwave. Before microwaving, make slits or holes, with a fork, to prevent the vegetable from exploding while it is cooking. Place it in a microwave-safe dish and cover it with a plastic wrap. Cook it on high for about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Medium-sized eggplants, 2
- Tomato puree or tomato sauce, ½ cup
- Mozzarella cheese, 6 oz.
- Oregano, ½ teaspoon
- Basil, ¼ teaspoon
- Parmesan cheese, ½ cup
Peel the skin and cut the eggplant in medium-sized slices. Mix the tomato sauce, oregano, Parmesan cheese, and basil in a bowl. On a microwave dish transfer the eggplant and the mixture, cover it with a plastic foil. Cook it in a microwave till the eggplant turns tender. Mix the Mozzarella and cook again till the cheese melts. Transfer the contents to a dish and serve hot with spaghetti.
Broiling is another method for cooking this vegetable. There are two methods of broiling - pan broiling and cooking it the oven which is set on 'broil' mode. While pan broiling is done on the stovetop in broiling pans and trays and is similar to sautéing, broiling in the oven, on the other hand, uses intense heating to cook the food. Broiling eggplant locks moisture and retains its original flavor.
- Large eggplant, cut crosswise into ½"-thick discs, 2
- Provolone cheese, 12 slices
- Olive oil, for greasing
- Italian salad dressing, 1 cup
- Grated Parmesan cheese, ½ cup
- Marinara sauce, 1 cup
- Dried rosemary, 1 tablespoon
- Dried oregano, 1 tablespoon
Grease a baking sheet with olive oil and keep aside. Wash the eggplant under running water and pat dry using paper towels. Cut the stalk and bottom, and slice the vegetable. Place the eggplant slices on the sheet and brush the salad dressing. Sprinkle oregano and rosemary and place the sheet in a preheated broiler. Allow the eggplant to cook thoroughly till it turns brown (can take up to one hour). Remove the sheet from the broiler and let it cool down. Top the slices with Provolone cheese, marinara sauce and sprinkle shredded cheese. Bake it in a preheated oven, at 392 °F, for about 5 minutes till the cheese melts.
If eggplant is your favorite, and you want enjoy it all round the year, then you can pickle it. This is one way of preserving the vegetable, with other spices and condiments. The end result is a heady mixture of tangy, spicy eggplant. Here is the recipe.
- Medium-sized eggplants, cut into cubes, 3 to 4
- Garlic cloves, minced, 10
- Ginger, minced, 2 inches
- Mustard oil, ½ cup
- Dried red chili, mashed, 1
- Vinegar, 1 cup
- Fresh curry leaves, 6 to 10
- Water, ½ cup
- Fenugreek seeds, ½ tablespoon
- Cumin seeds, ½ tablespoon
- Turmeric, 1½ tablespoons
- Fresh green chili, sliced, 2
- Salt, 1 tablespoon
Heat the mustard oil in a thick-bottomed pot and add the fenugreek and cumin seeds. Add the garlic and once it has turned brown, transfer the mashed red chili, mustard seeds, and curry leaves. Sauté for about a couple of minutes. Now pour the water, vinegar and allow it to simmer. Now add the eggplant, green chili, ginger, and salt. Stir around for sometime so that the ingredients get mixed. Bring the mixture to a boil (for about 20 minutes) so that the liquid thickens. Allow the pickle to cool down completely, before storing in glass jars.
This nightshade vegetable is not only good in taste but also a rich source of carbohydrates, dietary fibers, vitamins and minerals. So try out different recipes given in this article to give your family a delicious, healthy treat. However, a word of caution here. There are some people who may have allergic reactions like itchy skin or mouth, stomach upset, swelling in some parts of the body, headache, etc., after consumption, so try to avoid this vegetable in such case.