If you’re looking for a new vegetable to incorporate into your meals, eggplant is a great option. Not only is it versatile, but it’s also packed with nutrients and low in calories. The best part? Cooking eggplant is easier than you might think. In fact, you can cook it in the oven with just a few simple steps. In this article, we’ll walk you through the process of oven cooking eggplant so you can enjoy this delicious vegetable in no time!
What is Eggplant?
Eggplant, also known as Aubergine or Brinjal, is a member of the nightshade family. It is native to India and widely consumed across Asia, Europe, and the United States. This pear-shaped vegetable comes in different shapes, sizes, and colors, ranging from small and round to long and slender. Some eggplants even have a striped or speckled skin. It has a rich, meaty texture and a slightly bitter taste, making it a versatile ingredient in several dishes.
The Nutritional Benefits of Eggplant:
Eggplants are low in calories and high in nutrients, making them an ideal vegetable for people looking to lose weight. They are also rich in fiber, which helps keep the digestive system healthy and prevent constipation. Eggplants are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins C, K, and B6, folate, potassium, and manganese. Additionally, eggplants contain antioxidants that protect the body from damage caused by harmful free radicals.
How to select the Best Eggplant for Oven Cooking:
When selecting eggplants for oven cooking, look for those that are firm, smooth, and shiny. Avoid eggplants that are soft, wrinkled, or have blemishes, as these could be signs of spoilage or over-ripeness.
- Choose eggplants that feel heavy for their size, indicating that they are fresh and juicy.
- Look for eggplants with a vibrant, glossy skin that is free from scars, bruises, and discoloration.
- The stem of fresh eggplants should be green and firm, while the ones that have started to spoil will have a brown or dried stem.
- Eggplants can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days, but it’s best to use them as soon as possible to enjoy their full flavor and nutrition.
Preparation of Eggplant
Eggplant is a versatile vegetable that can be cooked in many ways. Here we will discuss how to prepare eggplant to be oven-baked. Proper preparation is important because eggplant has a tendency to absorb oil when cooked, which can leave it greasy and heavy. Follow these steps to prepare the eggplant correctly and ensure it is delicious and healthy.
Slicing the Eggplant
The first step in preparing eggplant is to slice it. You can slice eggplant into rounds or lengthwise strips. It is essential to maintain a consistent thickness so that the slices cook evenly. Aim for slices that are about 1/4-inch thick.
Eggplant can be bitter, especially if itâ€™s not fresh. To remove bitterness from the eggplant, sprinkle some salt over the slices. The salt draws out the moisture and helps the eggplant to cook better. Let the eggplant sit for about 30 minutes, until you see beads of moisture on the surface. Then, rinse the eggplant under running water to remove excess salt.
If youâ€™re short on time, you can place the slices in a bowl of water instead of salting them. Add some salt to the water and soak the eggplant for 15-20 minutes. Drain the slices and rinse them thoroughly before using them in the recipe.
Flavoring Your Eggplant
One of the great things about eggplant is its versatility and how it can take on different flavors and seasonings. So let’s explore some of the best ways to flavor your eggplant.
Herbs and Spices
Eggplant tends to have a fairly neutral taste on its own, which makes it a great base for experimenting with different herbs and spices. Here are a few to consider:
- Basil: A classic herb to pair with eggplant, basil gives a sweet yet slightly peppery flavor that complements well with baked or grilled eggplant dishes.
- Oregano: A popular herb used in Mediterranean dishes, oregano offers a slightly bitter and peppery taste that pairs well with a tangy tomato sauce topped eggplant dish.
- Paprika: Paprika adds a smoky and deep flavor which works great on grilled eggplants. Add it to your marinade with olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic.
- Cumin: Cumin has a nutty, earthy taste that goes well with roasted eggplant dishes. Use it alongside other seasonings like coriander and chili flakes in a spice mix.
Oils and Sauces
Oil or sauces are a great way to give your eggplant a unique taste. Here are a few you may want to try:
- Olive Oil: Olive oil pairs beautifully with eggplant dishes, it will help to enhance the natural flavors of the eggplant, and it will make the dish more moist and tender.
- Balsamic Vinegar: Balsamic vinegar provides a tangy sweetness that pairs well with eggplant. Drizzle it over grilled or roasted eggplants.
- Soy Sauce: Soy sauce can help give your eggplant a boost of umami flavor. Combine it with a little bit of honey, ginger, and garlic to make a great marinade for baking or grilling.
- Hoisin Sauce: Hoisin sauce is a great way to add some sweetness, saltiness, and depth of flavor to your eggplant dish. It pairs well with an Asian style stir-fry using other vegetables like carrots, peppers, and onions.
Baking Your Eggplant
Eggplants are the perfect addition to any dish with their meaty texture and savory flavor. They can be fried, grilled, sautÃ©ed, and even roasted. But baking eggplants in the oven is one of the easiest ways to cook them while retaining their flavor and texture. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to bake your eggplant in the oven.
Preparing Your Eggplant
The first step in baking your eggplant is to prepare it properly. Choose a fresh eggplant that feels firm to the touch, and does not have any bruises or blemishes on its skin. Preheat your oven to 375Â°F and line a baking dish with aluminum foil.
Slicing Your Eggplant
Cut off the stem of the eggplant and slice it into 1/4-inch thick rounds. You can also slice them lengthwise if you prefer. Sprinkle some salt on the slices to extract the moisture, and let them sit for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, pat them dry using paper towels to remove the salt and excess moisture.
Coating Your Eggplant
You’ll need to coat your eggplant slices in breadcrumbs and spices to give them an extra crunch and flavor. You can use a pre-made breadcrumb mix, or season your own breadcrumbs with salt, pepper, and other spices. Dip each eggplant slice in beaten eggs, then coat them with breadcrumbs and place them on the prepared baking dish.
Baking Your Eggplant
Place the baking dish in the oven and bake your eggplant slices for 20-25 minutes, or until they are golden brown and crispy. You can also turn them over halfway through the cooking time to ensure they are evenly cooked on both sides. Once they’re done, remove them from the oven and let them cool on a wire rack before serving.
So, you’ve mastered the art of oven-cooking eggplant, and now you’re left wondering how to serve it in a way that’s just as delicious as when it first came out of the oven. We’re here to provide some inspiration with these mouthwatering serving suggestions that are sure to satisfy your taste buds.
Pairs Perfectly With
Eggplant is an incredibly versatile ingredient that pairs perfectly with so many flavors. Here are some of our favorite pairings:
- Tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil
- Garlic, lemon, and parsley
- Chickpeas and tahini
- Cumin and coriander
- Red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese
Dips and Sauces
Top your oven-cooked eggplant with a creamy dip or sauce to take it to the next level. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Baba ganoush
- Marinara sauce
Add some texture and flavor to your eggplant by topping it with any of these delicious options:
- Toasted pine nuts
- Feta cheese
- Sun-dried tomatoes
TIP: For a fun twist, try serving your oven-cooked eggplant on a bed of mixed greens for a fresh and satisfying salad.
If you’re someone who loves to get creative in the kitchen, you’ve probably experimented with eggplant as a cooking ingredient. This versatile and healthy vegetable pairs well with different cuisines and takes on different textures depending on how it’s prepared. However, with so many different eggplant varieties in the market, it can be challenging to know which type you should choose and how to use it in your dishes. In this section, we will explore some of the most popular eggplant varieties available, along with tips on how to cook and serve each type.
1. Classic Purple Eggplant
Purple eggplant is the most commonly available type in most markets, and it’s typically used in traditional dishes like moussaka, ratatouille, and baba ghanoush. Compared to other varieties, it contains more seeds, but it’s still a great source of nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants. When selecting a purple eggplant, go for the small or medium sized ones with firm and shiny skin and avoid those with visible bruises or squishy spots.
- To cook: Cut the eggplant into rounds, cubes or lengthwise strips. Salt them and let them sit for at least 30 minutes to remove the excess bitter juice. Then rinse and pat dry. You can roast them in the oven, bake them, grill them, or fry them in oil.
- To serve: Roasted eggplant can be used in salads, sandwiches, or served as a savory side dish or dip. Grilled or fried eggplant can be used in sandwiches, wraps, or as a vegetarian substitute for meat in dishes like burgers and stir-fries.
2. Long Asian Eggplant
This variety is also known as Chinese eggplant or Japanese eggplant and is thinner and longer than the classic purple eggplant. It has a sweeter and milder taste, fewer seeds, and a thin and delicate skin that doesn’t need to be peeled. Long Asian eggplant is commonly used in East Asian and Thai dishes and can be found in most specialty grocery stores and Asian markets.
- To cook: Cut the eggplant into slices or cubes, salt them for 20-30 mins, then rinse, drain and pat them dry. They can be stir-fried, grilled, roasted or used in curries or stews.
- To serve: Asian eggplant is a great addition to stir-fries, noodle dishes, and vegetable curries. You can also grill or roast them and serve with soy sauce and sesame seeds for a simple and tasty side.
3. Striped Italian Eggplant
Also known as zebra eggplant, this variety has a distinctive pattern of purple and white stripes. It has a mild and nutty flavor, meaty texture, and fewer seeds than the classic purple eggplant. Striped Italian eggplant is best used in Mediterranean dishes like caponata, parmigiana, and grilled vegetable skewers.
- To cook: Cut into rounds or lengthwise slices, salt them and leave for 30 minutes or so. Then rinse, pat dry, brush with oil, and grill or roast until tender.
- To serve: Striped Italian eggplant tastes great in savory stews and casseroles, and it’s also perfect grilled and served with olive oil, lemon, and fresh herbs.
4. Indian Brinjal Eggplant
Commonly known as brinjal or baingan, Indian eggplant is found in several varieties, ranging from small and round to long and thin. It has a deep purple skin, soft flesh, and a slightly bitter taste. Indian eggplant is commonly used in Indian, Sri Lankan, and Pakistani dishes and is rich in nutrients like potassium, manganese, and vitamin C.
- To cook: Cut into cubes or slices, salt them and let sit for at least 30 minutes, then rinse and drain. You can stir-fry, roast, or grill them and use them in dishes like curries, biryanis, and chutneys.
- To serve: Indian eggplant tastes great in spicy and aromatic dishes like baingan bharta, a popular Indian eggplant mash, or in a creamy curry like baingan ka salan.
5. White Eggplant
White eggplant, also known as Sicilian eggplant, is a unique and rare variety that has a white and slightly pearlescent skin. It has a sweeter and less bitter taste than the classic purple eggplant and fewer seeds. White eggplant is used primarily in Italian, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern dishes.
- To cook: Cut into rounds, cubes, or lengthwise slices. Salt them and let sit for at least 30 minutes, then rinse and pat dry. Bake, fry or roast the eggplant to get them tender and slightly golden.
- To serve: White eggplant works well in pasta dishes, pizza toppings or as a substitute for chicken or fish in vegetarian meals. It also tastes great roasted and served with tahini sauce and pomegranate seeds.
6. Thai Yellow Eggplant
Also known as Thai pea eggplant, this small and round variety has a greenish-yellow skin and is used primarily in Thai and Southeast Asian curries. It has a slightly bitter taste and crunchy texture, with a distinctively floral aroma. Thai yellow eggplant is rich in vitamin C and potassium.
- To cook: You can use the whole eggplant or cut it into halves or quarters. Add it to the curry after the sauce and the other ingredients are ready and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
- To serve: Thai yellow eggplant’s crispy texture and mild flavor complement well spicy Thai curries, soups and stir-fries.
Thanks for Reading!
We hope you found our easy steps for oven cooking eggplant helpful and delicious! Cooking doesn’t have to be difficult, and we hope we’ve shown you just how simple it can be. Thanks for reading and be sure to check back for more recipes and cooking tips!
Easy Steps for Oven Cooking Eggplant
Learn how to cook eggplant in the oven with our easy-to-follow steps. Whether you’re a beginner or advanced cook, this delicious recipe will become one of your go-to favorites!
- 1 large eggplant
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- Preheat your oven to 400Â°F.
- Cut your eggplant into 1/2-inch cubes.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggplant cubes with garlic, olive oil, salt, black pepper, dried basil, and dried oregano. Stir well to make sure everything is coated.
- Spread the seasoned eggplant cubes on a baking sheet, ensuring they are in a single layer. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the eggplant is soft and tender.
- Once cooked, serve your delicious oven-cooked eggplant as a side dish or as an addition to pastas and salads. Enjoy!