This week I thought I’d pull together another installment of our Stonesoup vegetable spotlight.
Last time it was all about kale, today we’re talking aubergine, which in Australia goes by the much less exotic name ‘eggplant’.
Before we get to today’s recipe suggestions, I thought we’d better ask the big eggplant question…
To salt or not to salt?
One of the intimidating things about cooking eggplant is when recipes call for salting the eggplant before cooking. They often talk about salting to ‘remove the bitter flavours’ but in my experience, modern eggplants aren’t really bitter. So I tend not to bother with salting.
That being said, salting the eggplant can help minimise the amount of oil it absorbs when you’re pan frying it. Again, I tend not to bother, but it’s up to you…
6 Healthy Recipe Ideas for Aubergine (Eggplant)
1. Tomato Baked Eggplant
This has to be the easiest way to cook eggplant. I usually just serve it as is for a healthy vegetable focused meal but you could mash it up and use as a sauce for pasta.
2. Spiced Baked Eggplant
Eggplant loves spices! See the recipe below.
3. Grilled Baby Eggplant
My favourite way to cook those finger-shaped Japanese eggplant is to halve and grill on the BBQ. Sometimes I do them on their own, but I often cook them with other late Summer veg like red capsicum (bell peppers) and zucchini (courgettes). Wonderful served with hummus or this walnut and white bean puree.
If you can’t get your hands on baby eggplant, slice regular eggplant and use them instead.
My favourite eggplant soup is this White Bean & Eggplant Soup. It’s not the most beautiful creation but is deeply satisfying and well worth the effort.
5. Dip / Spread
No collection of eggplant recipes would be complete without the fabulous Lebanese dip / spread called babaganoush. Charring the eggplant can get a bit messy but it’s totally worth it for the intensely smoky flavour.
6. Eggplant ‘Steaks’
The rich silky texture of cooked eggplant make for a fabulous vegetarian alternative to regular steaks. Especially good served with these parmesan peas.
If you’d like to learn more about eggplant I’d recommend reading 7 Things You Should Know About Eggplant.
Spiced Eggplant with Yoghurt & Quinoa
This dish was inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi in his fabulous book, Jerusalem. Well worth a read!
It’s up to you whether you eat the eggplant skins or just scoop out the tasty flesh. I like to eat it all but my Irishman prefers to leave his skins behind.
Enough for 2
2 large eggplant (aubergine)
2 teaspoons ground coriander
150g (5oz) quinoa
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, leaves picked
6-8 tablespoons natural yoghurt
large handful pine nuts, toasted
1. Preheat oven to 200C (400F). Halve eggplant lengthwise then score the cut side by cutting in a chunky criss cross pattern. Place cut side up on a baking tray. Drizzle generously with olive oil and scatter over the ground coriander and a little salt and pepper.
2. Bake eggplant for 40 minutes or until very tender.
3. While the eggplant is cooking, bring a pot of water to the boil. Rinse quinoa and add to the boiling water. Simmer for 12-15 minutes until quinoa is just tender. Drain and toss with the parsley leaves.
4. When the eggplant is cooked, scatter over the quinoa parsley mixture. Drizzle with yoghurt and finish off with the pine nuts.
different spices – ground cumin, baharat, smoked paprika or a combo all work well with eggplant.
vegan / dairy-free – make a tahini sauce to replace the yoghurt by combining equal quantities of tahini, lemon juice and water.
carnivore – brown some ground (minced) lamb or beef in a pan and scatter over the quinoa.
nut-free – just skip the pine nuts or replace with some finely chopped red onion or red capsicum (bell pepper) for colour and crunch.
ps. Do you have a favourite way with eggplant? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
reading this post, as well as “the simplest way to cook aubergine with love to nigel slater” one from a while back has given me motivation to try working with aubergine again…I think I may have indeed suffered from some undercooked eggplant and it did not leave a great memory!
thanks for all the great recipes! they’re a real source of inspiration, especially for packed lunch ideas!
Look’s like a great recipe. I must confess, I rarely cook aubergine & eggplant. I just never think of it – but after reading this recipe, I’m intrigued. I’m going to make it my mission to try this. Thanks for sharing :)
Jules do you have a Healthy version of Moussaka? all the ones I have ever read or tried have humungous amounts of fatty things in (like lots of tasty cheese etc ) but without that the recipe tastes insipid __ any good ideas ? please ?
YES! Stonesoup-ify all of Jerusalem and Plenty… *PLEASE*!!! Two of the best cookbooks ever written, for sure. Simpler recipes = pure joy.
My favorite way to eat eggplant is an eggplant-haloumi burger with cilantro pesto and perhaps a bit of arugula or avocado. On sourdough or a good crusty, rich whole-wheat bread. Sooooooo delicious.
While I’m putting in plugs for you to Stonesoup-ify cookbooks, I’d love to see some recipes from Eat • Taste • Heal, as well…
Great Mandy! I have a serious Ottolenghi crush too… Not familiar with the other book you mentioned so will have to explore!
You might already do this Jules, but in chatting with my Greek hairdresser ( as you do!), I learnt that she ALWAYS cooks eggplant slices on her sandwich press – it cooks both sides simultaneously and is really fast. Needs just a bare coating of olive oil and salt, and cooks the slices very evenly. It tried it with Lebanese eggplant sliced length ways and now wouldn’t cook them any other way. It took about 4 minutes and didn’t suck up the oil anything like frying them in a pan does. Have a go! PS. She cooks zucchini and capsicum the same way.
i hide a whole eggplant in a pot of chillibeans. you must peel the skins off and crockpot them till dissolved to keep the secret though.
Yum Viridine! Although I must say I don’t condone hiding vegetables… as I think it sends a message that they aren’t delicious! But that’s just me :)
Americans say eggplant too. No one I know says aubergine.
It’s an English thing April :)
These are all such great, inspiring ideas – thank you for the post! Now which one to try first! :)