The Best Way to Cook Eggplant, According to a Pro Cook|Recipes Spots

  • on August 19, 2023
The Best Way to Cook Eggplant, According to a Pro Cook

Three Eggplants Stacked Together on a White and Blue Checkered Kitchen Towel Next to Some Parsley. Edges of Photo Decorated With Yellow Polka Dotted Illustrations
Simply Recipes / Photo Illustration by Wanda Abraham / Adobe Stock

I love eggplant, whether it’s stir-fried, grilled, stewed in a curry, tossed into pasta, or puréed into baba ganoush. But I don’t always have the best luck cooking it at home. 

For one thing, I lack the patience for most preparations. Many recipes have you salt the eggplant or soak it in salt water for up to 2 hours, then pat dry before cooking. This helps remove some of the bitterness and prevents the eggplant from tasting chewy. But I could count on one hand the number of times I’ve thought ahead far enough to salt the eggplant an hour before cooking.

Then I came across an Ottolenghi recipe for Roasted Eggplant with Anchovies and Oregano in one of his many excellent books, Ottolenghi Simple. He has you cut the eggplant into thick slices, season lightly with salt, and brush with oil. The slices go directly into a high-heat oven—no brining or salting. Now it’s my hands-down favorite way to cook eggplant.

Olive Oil Brushed Onto Eggplant Slices Using a Pastry Brush
Simply Recipes / Laurel Randolph

Why This Method Works

While the method couldn’t be much simpler, it produces superior results thanks to the thick slices of eggplant, a little oil, and a very hot oven. The eggplant emerges browned and toasty on the outside and tender and custardy on the inside. It’s not chewy, tough, or bitter. Just delicious.

How to Roast Eggplant the Ottolenghi Way

You’ll need:

  • 1 to 2 pounds globe eggplant(s)
  • Salt
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line 1 or 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Trim the ends off of the eggplant(s) and slice into rounds between 3/4 and 1 inch thick. No need to peel unless you really want to. Line them up in a single layer on the baking sheet(s). Sprinkle with salt.

Add the oil to a small bowl. You’ll need about 2 tablespoons per pound of eggplant. Brush onto one side of the rounds, then flip and brush the other side.

Bake until golden brown and very tender when pierced in the center with a knife, rotating the pans halfway, about 30 minutes.

Roasted Eggplant Slices on a Parchment Paper Lined Baking Sheet
Simply Recipes / Laurel Randolph

My Tips for Superior Roasted Eggplant

  • Be sure to buy globe eggplants, the standard fat eggplants they sell at American grocery stores. This method doesn’t work well with Chinese, Japanese, or Thai varieties. 
  • You can roast as little or as much eggplant as you want, just make sure it’ll all fit on two large baking sheets. I can usually fit 2 pounds of eggplant at most, but it depends on how chunky they are (their diameter).
  • Use a thin metal spatula to separate the eggplant from the parchment. Sometimes it sticks a bit, but a confident motion helps.

How to Use Roasted Eggplant

I’ve used these lovely rounds of toasty, tender eggplant in a number of ways. They are delicious served as a side dish topped simply with a ginger, soy, and sesame dressing or tahini sauce and lots of herbs. They’re fun to stack with slices of mozzarella and tomato and basil. They’re also delicious in sandwiches (especially with feta cheese), chopped and added to pasta, and more.

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