Weekend Menu Planning: Try Something New with Eggplant

BlogHer Original Post

If you're enthusiastic about eggplant, that might be enough to get you labeled as someone who likes weird food in some families. It's true that eggplant can sometimes be a hard sell, but there are so many delicious eggplant recipes that I'm convinced that people who think they don't like eggplant have never had it prepared well. And if you look at global cuisine, it's used in countries around the world, so those eggplant lovers can't all be wrong.

In the U.S. eggplant is available year-round, but in home gardens it often comes just as fall begins, because eggplants require a long warm growing season. There are many types of eggplant, from the large dark purple Black Beauty eggplant, to the long Japanese Eggplant or the cute little Thai Kirby Eggplant. Larger eggplants can be bitter, so recipes often recommend that you slice the eggplant, salt it, and let the salt draw out the bitterness before you cook it. Smaller Asian or white eggplants don't usually need this salting step.

When I started noticing interesting eggplant recipes popping up on food blogs a few weeks ago, I was amazed by the variety of different way to cook with eggplant. Yet, even with all these good ideas for eggplant, when I had lunch with my friend Bonnie earlier today she told me, "I don't think I've ever cooked eggplant." If that's true for you, you may want to read Food Blogga's Eggplant 101:How to Select, Store and Cook Them before you go to the store. Then choose one of these ideas, take a deep breath, and put eggplant on the menu. (And if you're already an eggplant fan and experienced eggplant cook, please share your favorite eggplant recipes in the comments.)

Photo of Grilled Eggplant Sandwich
from Simply Recipes

I have to say that my personal favorite way to cook eggplant is grilling it, so this Grilled Eggplant Sandwich from Simply Recipes was probably the post that got me started thinking about eggplant recipes recently. Elise says this even was a hit with her dad, who's one of those people who "doesn't like eggplant."

More Grilled Eggplant Ideas

Spicy Grilled Eggplant with Red Pepper, Parsley, and Mint ~ from Kalyn's Kitchen
This is the dish that turned me from an eggplant avoider into a downright eggplant fan.

Grilled Eggplant with Roasted Red Pepper Tapenade ~ from Food Blogga
This simple grilled eggplant comes alive with a flavorful topping of roasted red peppers, olives, lemon juice, and herbs.

Photo of Eggplant Caponata
from Blue Kitchen

Eggplant Caponata is a dish where the eggplant is often roasted or stewed, but this beautiful version from Blue Kitchen barely sautes the eggplant for a more textured look.

More Stir-Fried or Sauteed Eggplant:

Eggplant with Miso Meat Sauce ~ from Japan Times Online
This eggplant stir-fry with beef and miso was created by Maki of Just Hungry and Just Bento.

Ground Pork and Diced Eggplants with Three Sauces ~ from Home Cooking Rocks!
This eggplant dish will work with any sauce combination that appeals to your taste buds.

Photo of Iraqi-Inspired Seitan and Eggplant Stew
from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen

Stew with eggplant is made in many parts of the world, and the Iraqi-Inspired Seitan and Eggplant Stew from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen uses Baharat seasoning. If you don't want to use seitan or need a gluten-free alternative, Susan suggests adding some chickpeas.

More Stewed Dishes with Eggplant:

Armenian Aubergine Stew ~ from Nami Nami
Eggplant is called aubergine in many parts of the world, but Pille from Nami Nami (in Estonia) says you can call this Armenian Eggplant Stew if you'd like.

Moroccan Chicken Stew with Eggplant and Tomato ~ from Kitchen Parade
This recipe includes what Alanna calls "a pile of spices" but paprika, fennel seed, turmeric, coriander, cumin, and ginger sound like they would create great flavor.

Photo of Roasted Sweet Potato, Eggplant, and Tomato Spread
from Cookin' Canuck

Eggplants are often roasted and transformed into delicious dips or spreads to be served on bread or pita, and the Roasted Sweet Potato, Eggplant, and Tomato Spread from Cookin' Canuck is one of the prettier ones I've seen.

More Roasted Eggplant Spreads or Dips:

Roasted Eggplant Spread ~ from Cheap Healthy Good
In this recipe eggplant, red bell pepper, onion, and garlic are roasted together and then pureed with some spices for a tasty spread.

Eggplant Tomato Tartare ~ from Not Eating Out in New York
Normally the word tartare refers to meats consumed raw, but this dish has lightly roasted eggplant combined with tomatoes for a delicious combination to spread on bread.

Photo of Ratatouille
from Dinner with Julie

No round-up of ideas for eggplant would be complete without Ratatouille, the famous French dish that combines eggplant with other roasted vegetables into a dish where the sum is always greater than the parts, and this version from Dinner with Julie looks delicious.

More Ratatouille-Inspired Dishes:

Grilled Ratatouille ~ from Sarah's Cucina Bella
This version of Ratatouille has all the classic ingredients, but it won't heat up the kitchen and cooks more quickly than the roasted type.

Meatball Ratatouille Soup ~ from Salad in a Jar
Think ground beef mini meatballs added to ratatouille ingredients and some beef broth and you have this delicious sounding and low-calorie soup.

Photo of Eggplant Parmesan Chips
from Life's Ambrosia

Finally, eggplant parmesan may be the most well-known eggplant dish but I loved the Eggplant Parmesan Chips created by Desi at Life's Ambrosia when she realized that the cheese-crusted eggplant was her favorite part of the dish.

More Ideas with Eggplant Parmesan:

Eggplant Parmesan Stacks ~ from Ms. Adventures in Italy
These tasty looking stacks combine fried eggplant slices, fresh mozzarella and arugula.

Eggplant Parmesan Rolls ~ from Macheesmo
This dish of roasted eggplant slices rolled around ricotta-chard filling topped with tomato sauce and parmesan has a few steps, but the finished result looks worth it!

(Every week on BlogHer, we spotlight five recipes with a common theme for a feature called Weekend Menu Planning, hoping one of them might make it onto the menu at your house. You can find previous recipes shared by checking the Weekend Menu Planning Archives or clicking the tag Weekend Menu Planning.)

Kalyn Denny also blogs at Kalyn's Kitchen where she's focused on creating low-glycemic recipes using fresh ingredients. Kalyn has been picking eggplant this week, and she'll probably use it to make Garlic Lover's Vegetable Stir Fry with Eggplant, Zucchini, and Yellow Squash.


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