The humble eggplant is a vegetable that has been a staple of international cuisine for centuries, whether that Italian, Indian, or Thai, eggplant has found its way into many different dishes.
It’s a really versatile ingredient that absorbs flavor and fat, while still having loads of veggie nutrition.
You can cook eggplant in a whole host of different ways, from simply frying it for a pasta dish, battering and deep frying for a great veggie alternative, or roasting it and turning its creamy skin into a dip.
Eggplant can be used in any dish from a family favorite to dinner party showstopper, there’s a plethora of opportunities with this inexpensive and widely available vegetable. We’ve found some of our favorite eggplant recipes that you can try today.
These recipes could win even the eggplant hater over, read on to find out which recipe we chose.
This Italian classic is a crowd pleaser, even for those who hate the eggplant. The eggplant is deep fried in batter, like a chicken cutlet is for the classic version of this dish. The deep fried eggplant is then covered in a hearty tomato marinara sauce and layered with mozzarella and basil leaves.
This is a seriously great veggie dish for the vegetarians who want to indulge in the delights of deep fried food. The eggplant is a sponge for any form of fat and is mainly water itself, so this dish remains relatively low calorie and stays healthy while also satisfying your taste buds.
This is a middle eastern classic that will please jadati’s across the globe. This dish is pretty simple and if you get it down you have it in your arsenal for any dinner party or occasion
The eggplant is simply cooked on a high heat until it’s skin is burnt and can be discarded while its flesh has become soft and absorbed a smoky flavor. A yoghurt is then made with garlic and curry powder that is super tangy with a hum of mild spice.
The two are combined with fresh olive oil and potentially a tahini sauce for a dipping delight that will impress any guest. Get some bread or lettuce leaves for a healthier option and dip to your heart’s content.
Back to Italy for this one. This is basically an Italian moussaka, although the traditional Italians may not admit it. The eggplant is usually roasted for half fit’s usual cooking time and is then layered with tomato marinara sauce, a cheese such as mozzarella, perhaps some other veg, and of course basil.
It finishes roasting within the lasagne and the outcome is a cheesy and sweet affair that is a great choice for any veggie weekday meal.
Ratatouille is a French classic that the artisan chef is expected to master, but cooking at home is easy and satisfying and is a great way to make something that looks very complex and pretty but is actually really simple and easy.
The vegetables of choice, the usual provincial vegetables of eggplant, tomato, zucchini, etc, are all separately fried and then layered on top of each other. The layers of veg look super colourful and inviting to both meat eaters and vegetarians.
For this little bit of extra effort you can really impress your guests. The affair is roasted again for a period and then served in its cross layered glory.
Another great use of the eggplant, this time from Greece. This dish is basically what we might recognise in the western world as a ‘gratin’. The eggplant is roasted until tender and flavorful and then layered into a dish.
On top of the eggplant it’s traditional to include a lamb ragu, or beef, but vegetarians can find substitutes such as some curried lentils.
On top of this affair, a bechamel and breadcrumbs are added to create a soft but crunchy, and cheesy, crust that combines perfectly with the roasted eggplant and umami sauce underneath. Surprise your fussy friends with this Greek classic that will undoubtedly go down a treat.
Now to the east where we find a dish that has many variants depending on where you are dining. Sambal is basically a spicy tomato and chile condiment that is often home made and goes perfectly with eggplant.
The sauce, referred to as sambal, is usually made with tomato and chile’s and has many variants from Thailand and Malaysia, but you can customise as you see fit.
The eggplant is fried with this sauce and makes for a spicy and sweet affair, throw some szechuan pepper in as well as some asian wine vinegar and you will get the asian triad of sweet, sour, and spicy. This dish can be served as a side or can be served over rice for a more filling main dish.
Shakshuka is a popular Middle Eastern dish that has found its way to tables all over the world. Usually made by braising eggs in a tomato and pepper sauce, you can pimp this into an Italian dish with eggplant and cheese.
Go for the usual tomato sauce, but try some more Italian inspired herbs rather than Middle Eastern. For example, try basil and oregano, and use chilli for heat as well as lots of black pepper. Frying some eggplant adds a lot of flavor and smokiness that is often present in the classic.
Use some feta or mozzarella when you put the affair in the oven for an extra provincial twist where the headline is eggplant.
If you love pizza but you’re on a diet or a keto diet, then this could be a fun way to get the pizza flavor without the carbs. Roast your eggplant in the oven, halfway through cover it with some panko breadcrumbs for a crispy finish, remove from the oven when the eggplant is a few minutes away from being done.
Top the eggplant with your favorite pizza toppings. Some cherry tomatoes and mozzarella, and basil, will bring the usual provincial flavors of Italy to your diet. You might have to eat it with a fork and knife, but it sure tastes like pizza.
Another provincial classic that has been upturned to get rid of those pesky carbs. Rather than rolling your filling in pasta, why not try some thinly sliced roasted eggplant. Once the eggplant is roasted and loses some moisture it becomes pretty malleable and can be rolled like cooked pasta.
Roll some ricotta and spinach mixture into your cooked eggplant and get ready for some great pasta flavors without the carbs. Place a few cannelloni in a dish and cover with a classic mariana and some mozzarella, make the conneloni for a few minutes and prepare to be shocked by how little you miss pasta in this dish.
This south asian dish is an eggplant mash essentially that is great as a dip, side or main dish when served over rice. The eggplant is roasted until the flesh is soft and mashable, do this over charcoal to get additional smoky flavor.
The flesh is then mashed and added to a frying pan where it is fried alongside onions, chiles, and classic asian spices. This makes for a real creamy and rich affair that is great with chapatis, over rice, or on its own. It’s the Indian baba ganoush!
Our Caribbean friends are also friends of the humble eggplant, and they often use it in their curries. Diced and then fried with the usual Jamaican spice mix, alongside okra or even plantain for a real island vibe. Add chiles for what and coconut milk to thicken and add to the creamy texture.
The eggplant will break down when slow cooked and thicken the mixture with the coconut milk for an indulgent but still pretty healthy curry. THis dish is a great way to use veggies you may not be used to, such as okra, alongside your eggplant, which isn’t typically a caribbean vegetable.
Deep fried eggplant is easy and can be customised in many different ways depending on how you like it. The eggplant is usually covered in flour and then dipped in an egg batter and added to hot oil for deep frying.
This is a hugely common dish in the Dominican Republic and is often served alongside deep fried plantain and yucca. You can go crazy with the dips on this one, we love some mint yoghurt, which isn’t traditional, or usually a great salsa roja or verde.
This is a great way to use up veggies that are sitting quietly in your fridge, especially eggplant. This is a simple dish that can be made by home cooks of any skill and is a great way to learn how to customise your dishes.
This is usually a combination of eggplant, tomato, peppers, and any other veg you think will work, which is slowly fried together in a pan.
Add the spices you see fit, go more middle eastern with some cumin and za’atar, Italian with some oregano and basil, or Asian with Chinese five spice and soy sauce. Add some potatoes or chickpeas to balance the dish and make it a little heartier.
This is a finer culinary adventure for the meat lovers among us who want to impress their guests. Although, saying that, this is pretty easy. Cook your steak to your own standards and cut it into relatively thin strips and season as regular. The star of this dish should be the eggplant pureé.
Roast and eggplant until its flesh can be mashed, discard its skin and get mashing. Make a simple bechamel sauce with milk and flour, and combine with the eggplant. Mash the eggplant or put it through a food processor to get the texture you think is best.
Serve the steak on top of a bed of this pureé and be prepared to enjoy steak like you have never enjoyed it before, the smokiness of the fried meat with the roasted eggplant is something many of your guests won’t have experience but will love!
This is a staple of Middle Eastern cuisine that has made its way west and is enjoyed globally. Baba Ganoush is basically a roasted eggplant and tahini dip. The eggplant is roasted and mashed, strain the eggplant to get rid of as much moisture as possible for a creamier finish.
Add tahini to taste and finish the plate with some good virgin olive oil and some herbs. This is a smoky and rich dish that makes vegetables irresistible but is also great with a hunk of bread.
This is a great way to make a vegan shakshuka. Obviously, the classic Moroccan shakshuka relies on eggs being braised in the spicy tomato sauce, which isn’t vegan. However you can replace the protein and umami notes with chickpeas for our vegan friends.
Simply create a similar shakshuka base with tomatoes, peppers and cumin being the main flavors and then braise the eggplant in this sauce, along with a tin of chickpeas. This is a hearty and satisfying meal for vegans, and vegan curious people to try and love.
We’ve been spinning a small white lie throughout this article, that eggplant is a vegetable. Just like tomatoes, the eggplant is technically a fruit. This is due to its seeds, and it’s not surprising considering that eggplant can be quite rich and sweet when cooked in a certain way.
This desert sounds pretty wild, but honestly give it a try and you will understand why this has become a showcase of the best that Italian cuisine has to offer.
The eggplant is simply deep fried in the shape that you feel necessary, rounds are good as they can be stacked. When the fried eggplant is still warm, sprinkle it with cinnamon and sugar. Layer the eggplant in a dish and cover with candied fruit and nuts of your choice.
Cranberries and hazelnuts are a great option. Pour the chocolate sauce over the top and be prepared to be amazed at how well they go together, it seems wrong, but it’s so right!
Stuffed Eggplant is another way to get creative with your ingredient choices and customising a dish to your particular taste. Our favorite way to make this dish is to roast the eggplant whole, and then cut it in half.
When cooked for a shorter period the skin and outer flesh can remain somewhat intact while the innermost flesh will be somewhat cooked. You can scoop out some of the cooked flesh creating an orifice to fill. Mix the cooked eggplant with fresh tomatoes, basil, and pine nuts.
Add this filling to the hollowed out eggplant and then top with some feta cheese and even some pomegranate seeds. This makes a great greek-italian dish that can be served with lots of different sides.
Despite its translation ‘fish fragrant eggplant’, this dish contains no meat or fish and is a great vegetarian style asian dish. The eggplant is cut into batons which are then placed in a salty liquid which actually allows them to expel some moisture.
When this has happened the eggplant is shallow fried in a wok to get a smoky and charred flavour. While frying a sichuan style sauce is made with vinegar, chiles, soy sauce, and cornstarch.
The sauce is then added to the aubergine and other vegetables and stir fried in a wok until the mixture is glossy and coats the eggplant well. This dish is great served over rice or on its own for a carb-less feast.
Fattoush is a type of greek salad that traditionally has fried pita bread incorporated into a greek style salad. When shallow frying your pitta, there’s a great opportunity to shallow fry some similarly sized eggplant pieces alongside it.
The usual salad suspects are in this salad, add olives and capers for a salty but typically greek finish to your salad. The eggplant adds an extra dimension to the salad that compliments the crunch of the pita bread real well.
Serve with feta cheese and a dusting of sumac for the traditional flavour, this is a great summer salad that will stand out among the table at a barbeque.
Our Final Say
As these dishes show, the eggplant is a really versatile vegetable, or should I say fruit, that has been used in international cuisine for ages. It spans from Greek cuisine to Chinese and is utilised in many ways for different purposes.
Eggplant can be fried, grilled and roasted for different effects and with little wastage. The humble eggplant is used in dishes from sides, dips, salads, a variety of mains, as well as the occasional dessert. Any number of these recipes could convince the eggplant sceptic to get cooking and find a dish that works for them.