Eggplant Recipes – Think eggplant has to be stringy, bitter, greasy, or bland? Chances are you’ve just never eaten it when it’s cooked right. The pale meat of this botanical-fruit-turned-culinary-vegetable is certainly mild in flavor, and its spongy texture means it’s prone to soaking up an excess of oil.
But all it takes to make eggplant appealing is a little know-how, whether you’re grilling it, roasting it, sautéing it, or blending it into smooth dips. We especially like it when it’s smoky and charred from intense direct heat, with the skin all wrinkled.
If you still need a little convincing of its worth, if you’re already an eggplant lover and your garden is turning out an uncontrollable glut this summer, or if your overwhelmed neighbors are constantly throwing their eggplant bounty your way, these 32 recipes will rescue you.
We’ve got miso-glazed eggplant slices topping a burger, crisp-edged fried eggplant smothered with tahini and packed into Israeli sabich sandwiches, and the creamiest, richest baba ganoush, hungry yet?
- 1 1. Sabich Sandwiches (Pitas With Eggplant, Eggs, Hummus, and Tahini)
- 2 2. Roasted Vegetable and Goat Cheese Shooter’s-Style Sandwich
- 3 Directions
- 4 3. Japanese Miso-Glazed Eggplant Burgers With Fresh Pickles
- 5 4. Summer Vegetable Lasagna With Zucchini, Squash, Eggplant, and Tomato
- 6 5. Italian-Style Eggplant Parmesan (Melanzane alla Parmigiana)
- 7 6. Roasted Eggplant With Tahini, Pine Nuts, and Lentils
- 8 7. Stovetop Eggplant With Harissa, Chickpeas, and Cumin Yogurt
- 9 8. Sichuan-Style Braised Eggplant With Pickled Chilies and Garlic (Yu Xiang Qie Zi)
- 10 9. Spiced Shrimp and Eggplant Stir-Fry
- 11 10. Eggplant, Squash, and Cherry Tomato Hash With Baked Eggs
1. Sabich Sandwiches (Pitas With Eggplant, Eggs, Hummus, and Tahini)
Move over, falafel, there’s a new Israeli sandwich in town! The sabich is a popular Tel Aviv street snack that eats like a meal – a warm, thick pita, split and stuffed with fried eggplant slices, hard-boiled egg, hummus, tahini sauce, Israeli cucumber and tomato salad, and Mediterranean-style pickles, all of which adds up to fantastic diversity in texture and flavor (and a gloriously oozy, drippy mess). The secret ingredient in a sabich is tart amba, a sauce made of pickled mango and flavored with fenugreek.
Falafel may get all the attention, but the sabich, another popular Tel Aviv snack food, has won my heart. Filled with moist slices of fried eggplant, hard-boiled egg, a generous layer of creamy hummus, crunchy Israeli pickles, and Israeli salad, and drizzled with tahini sauce and amba, a pickled-mango sauce, it’s all you could want in any sandwich, and more.
- 2 plum tomatoes (7 ounces; 200g), cored and diced
- Kosher salt
- Olive oil or vegetable oil, for frying
- 3/4 pound Italian eggplant (about 1 medium eggplant; 350g), sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
- 1/2 large seedless cucumber (7 ounces; 200g), diced
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) fresh juice from 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley
- 1/4 cored head cabbage (7 ounces; 200g), thinly shredded
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) white wine vinegar
- 4 fresh rounds pita bread, warmed and split just enough to form a pocket
- 3/4 cup homemade or store-bought hummus (6 ounces; 170g)
- 1/2 cup (120ml) homemade or store-bought tahini sauce (note that tahini and tahini sauce are different products)
- 4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
- Israeli pickles, for serving (see note)
- Amba sauce, for serving (see note)
Place tomatoes in a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl and toss with a generous pinch of salt. Let stand 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat 1/4 inch oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Working in batches if necessary, fry eggplant slices, rotating for even browning and turning once halfway through, until golden on both sides and tender throughout, about 5 minutes; lower heat if oil begins to smoke. Transfer eggplant to a paper towel–lined baking sheet and sprinkle with salt.
Transfer tomatoes to a medium bowl and discard drained liquid. Add cucumber, lemon juice, and parsley to tomatoes. Season Israeli salad with salt to taste and mix well.
In a medium bowl, toss cabbage with vinegar and season with salt.
In each pita pocket, smear 3 tablespoons (45ml) of hummus in an even layer. Layer 2 to 3 slices fried eggplant on top of each. Drizzle each with 1 tablespoon (15ml) tahini sauce, then top with sliced eggs, Israeli pickles, and remaining tahini sauce. Spoon some of the Israeli salad into each pita, drizzle with amba, and serve.
Special Equipment: Fine-mesh strainer
Notes: Amba, a sauce made from pickled mango, and Israeli pickles, which are spicier and more tart than American bread-and-butter pickles, are available from international and Israeli grocers and online.
2. Roasted Vegetable and Goat Cheese Shooter’s-Style Sandwich
This vegetarian shooter’s-style sandwich gets a meaty texture from roasted eggplant, portobello mushrooms, and zucchini. Here, we take extra care to eliminate as much moisture as we can from the vegetables, which concentrates their flavor and prevents sogginess.
After cooking, they’re layered with sweet caramelized onions, roasted red peppers, and goat cheese. The portability of a shooter’s-style sandwich makes it great for picnics, but if you’re eating it at home, you can warm it up in the oven before serving.
Roasted vegetables, caramelized onions, and goat cheese are packed into a hollowed out loaf of bread, wrapped tightly, and then pressed under heavy weights for several hours to pack all the flavors into a perfect, bite-height sandwich.
Why this recipe works:
- The vegetables are all cooked to maximize moisture loss, resulting in more concentrated flavors and a sandwich that doesn’t get soggy or slimy.
- Quick-caramelized onions offer 90% of the flavor of slow-caramelized onions, in just about 15 minutes.
- Pressing the sandwich under a heavy weight and slicing while wrapped produces neat, easy to pack, easy to eat serving portions.
Note: Sandwich can also be served hot. If heating, place unwrapped sandwich on a rimmed baking sheet in a preheated 375°F oven for 15 minutes.
- 1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch slices
- Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 large onions, thinly sliced
- 3 to 4 large portobello mushrooms, stems and dark gills removed
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 6 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled
- 1 (8 ounce) jar roasted red peppers, or two whole red bell peppers roasted at home
- 1 loaf rustic sesame-crusted bread or ciabatta
Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 450°F. Place eggplant slices on a rimmed baking sheet lined with a double layer of paper towels. Season well on both sides with kosher salt. Let rest for 30 minutes, turning once half way through, to allow excess moisture to be extracted. Top with a double layer of paper towels and press down very firmly on each slice to compress. Set aside.
While eggplants drain, cook the onions. Melt butter in a large heavy-bottomed stainless steel or enameled cast iron saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until bottom of saucepan is glazed in a pale brown fond, about 8 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons water and scrape up fond with wooden spoon. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until fond has built up again, about 3 minutes longer. Add 2 more tablespoons water and scrape up browned bits. Repeat cooking, adding water, and scraping until onions are completely softened and a deep, dark brown, about 20 minutes total. Season to taste with salt. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
When eggplants are drained and compressed, toss in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon oil. Score a faint cross-hatch pattern into the tops of each portobello mushroom. Rub mushrooms with another tablespoon oil and season with salt. Transfer eggplant and mushrooms to a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet. Transfer to oven and cook for 10 minutes. Flip eggplant slices and mushrooms and continue cooking until mushrooms are tender and well browned, about 10 minutes longer. Transfer mushrooms to a plate and set aside. Continue cooking eggplant until golden brown but not burnt, about 10 minutes longer. Remove from oven and set aside.
Heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add as many zucchini slices as will fit in one layer, season with salt, and cook, swirling pan occasionally, until golden brown on first side, about 3 minutes. Carefully flip slices using a thin metal spatula, season with salt, and cook until second side is browned, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and repeat with any remaining zucchini slices.
To Assemble Sandwich: Slice off the top 1 to 1 1/2-inches of the loaf of bread using a bread knife. Cut around the perimeter of the interior crumb, making sure not to break through the bottom crust, then use your hand to lift out the excess bread from the inside, leaving you with a hollow bread boat.
Spread half of the caramelized onions into the bottom of the bread boat. Top with half the roasted red peppers, half the eggplant, half the goat cheese, half the zucchini, and the portobellos. Top with remaining zucchini, goat cheese, eggplant slices, roasted peppers, and caramelized onions. Close sandwich.
Wrap sandwich tightly in aluminum foil or burtcher’s paper, then place in between two stiff cutting boards. Place a heavy weight on top (about 40 pounds), press down firmly to flatten sandwich, then let rest under the weight at room temperature for at least 4 hours and up to overnight (keep an eye on the sandwich to ensure that it is pressing evenly).
When ready to eat, remove weights, slice sandwich into four to six pieces through paper or foil with a bread knife, unwrap, and serve.
3. Japanese Miso-Glazed Eggplant Burgers With Fresh Pickles
Slices of globe eggplant are exactly the right size for topping a burger patty, so this recipe was just meant to be. The tender roasted eggplant slices are brushed with a sweet-savory miso glaze, then piled on top of juicy burgers, along with creamy Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise and quick-pickled cucumbers for a nice bright crunch.
Because the glaze is already rather sweet, we recommend using less sugar for the pickles than you normally would be inclined to.
Topped with tender, miso-glazed roasted eggplant and fresh Asian cucumber pickles, these burgers strike a sweet-savory balance that’s hard to resist.
Why this recipe works:
- Using 80-percent lean ground beef guarantees juicy, flavorful burgers.
- Handling the ground beef as little as possible and only seasoning the exterior creates a patty with a perfect hamburger texture that isn’t tight like meatloaf.
Note: Mirin is a sweet rice-based wine. It can be found in any Japanese or Asian grocery story. If unavailable, you can make a substitue by heating 1 cup of sake with 1 cup of sugar until dissolved. While you only need 4 slices of eggplant for these burgers, you can (and should) cook even more slices of the eggplant, using the extra glaze, because they’re delicious.
- 2 tablespoons mirin (see note)
- 2 tablespoons sake
- 1/4 cup mild red or white miso
- 6 tablespoons sugar, divided
- 1 large globe eggplant, cut crosswise into 4 (1/2 inch thick) rounds (see note)
- Vegetable oil, for brushing
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
- 2 cups thinly sliced Japanese or English cucumbers (about 2 Japanese or 1/2 English)
- 1 1/2 pounds freshly ground beef chuck, preferably about 80 percent lean, formed into 4 (4 1/2 inch wide) patties
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Mayonaise, preferably Kewpie, for serving
- Sriracha, for serving
- 4 English muffins, split and toasted
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, whisk together mirin, sake, miso, and 2 tablespoons sugar until well combined. Set aside.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Brush eggplant slices with vegetable oil and set on prepared baking sheet. Bake eggplant, turning once, until very tender, about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine vinegar, water, remaining 4 tablespoons sugar, and 1/2 tablespoon salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat. Add cucumber slices and stir. Cover with a clean kitchen towel or a double layer of heavy duty paper towels, pressing down until towel is saturated with liquid and in direct contact with the cucumbers. Let rest 10 minutes, then transfer cucumbers to a sealable container. Top up with liquid and discard the rest. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Season patties generously with salt and pepper. Cook to desired doneness on a hot grill or in a skillet on the stovetop, 125°F for medium rare or 135°F for medium. Transfer to a plate and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
Turn on broiler. Brush top sides of eggplant slices with miso glaze and broil until browned on top, about 2 minutes. Spread mayonnaise and sriracha on English muffin top halves. Set burger patties on English muffin bottom halves, and top each with an eggplant slice. Top with pickled cucumbers, saving the rest for another use, close burgers and serve immediately.
4. Summer Vegetable Lasagna With Zucchini, Squash, Eggplant, and Tomato
Lasagna isn’t the kind of airy, light dish we tend to associate with hot summer days, but sometimes you just want a big slab of lasagna regardless of the season, you know?
To make a tasty lasagna using summer vegetables, we sauté them to drive out excess water (zucchini, eggplant, and yellow squash are all full of it) and use a sparing hand with the cheese – too much dairy will overpower the veggies’ delicate flavor. The result is a casserole that’ll satisfy your lasagna cravings while still tasting fresh.
With a pile of eggplant, summer squash, zucchini, tomatoes, and basil in my vegetable bowl, I decided to pack them all together into a lasagna. Why I felt like making lasagna during the summer, with days reaching nearly 100°F, I can’t tell you, but when that lasagna itch strikes, you’ve just got to scratch it.
Why It Works
- Sautéing the vegetables drives out excess moisture and adds flavor.
- Soaking no-cook lasagna noodles in water before layering improves texture.
- Using a minimal amount of cheese in between layers keeps the vegetable flavor at the forefront.
- About 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 3/4 pound zucchini (about 2 medium), ends trimmed, thinly sliced crosswise between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick
- Kosher salt
- 3/4 pound summer squash (about 2 medium), ends trimmed, thinly sliced crosswise between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick
- 3/4 pound Japanese eggplant (about 2), ends trimmed, thinly sliced crosswise between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick
- 15 no-boil lasagna noodles (1 box)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 quart whole milk
- 2 ounces freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1 quart homemade or store-bought crushed tomatoes
- 3/4 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, torn into rough chunks
- Handful of basil leaves
In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over high heat until shimmering. Working in batches and being sure not to crowd the pan, add zucchini, season with salt, and cook, turning, until just tender and browned in spots, about 4 minutes per batch. Add more oil as needed to prevent pan from drying out, and adjust heat as needed throughout to maintain a very hot, but not heavily smoking, pan. Transfer each batch to a baking sheet and spread in an even layer to cool, then transfer cooled slices to a second baking sheet or plate. Repeat with remaining zucchini, squash, and eggplant until all vegetables are lightly browned.
Place lasagna noodles in a 9- by 13-inch casserole dish and cover with hot water. Let noodles soak while you prepare the white sauce, agitating them every few minutes to prevent sticking, about 20 minutes total.
Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until melted. Add flour and increase heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring butter and flour with a whisk until pale golden blond, about 1 minute. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in milk. Continue to cook, whisking frequently, until mixture comes to a boil and thickens. Remove from heat and add Parmigiano-Reggiano. Whisk until smooth. Season to taste with salt. Set aside.
Season crushed tomatoes to taste with salt.
Preheat oven to 375°F and adjust rack to center position. Transfer noodles to a clean kitchen towel or layer with paper towels to dry them. Dry the casserole dish carefully and brush with olive oil. Spread a thin layer of crushed tomatoes on the bottom of the baking dish. Layer with 3 lasagna noodles. Top with 1/4 of eggplant, zucchini, and squash, 1/5 of crushed tomatoes, and 1/5 of white sauce. Repeat layers three more times. Place the final lasagna noodles on top and spread with remaining crushed tomatoes and white sauce. Scatter mozzarella evenly over surface and add basil leaves. Drizzle lightly with olive oil.
Cover dish tightly with aluminum foil and place in oven. Bake for 30 minutes, uncover, and continue baking until lightly browned on top. Remove from oven, let rest 10 minutes, slice, and serve.
5. Italian-Style Eggplant Parmesan (Melanzane alla Parmigiana)
Compared to its bread-crumb-laden Italian-American cousin, Italian-style eggplant parm is lighter and smoother. We start by frying eggplant slices, uncoated, then layer them with a simple tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and fresh oregano leaves. Noticeably absent from the recipe is Parmesan cheese—we think the salty aged cheese is a poor companion for the cleaner flavors of the other ingredients.
- Olive oil, vegetable oil, or a combination, for frying
- 2 pounds (0.9kg) eggplant, sliced 1/4 inch thick
- Kosher salt
- 1 1/4 cups (360ml) tomato sauce (see note)
- 3/4 pound shredded fresh mozzarella (12 ounces; 340g)
- Torn fresh oregano leaves, from about 4 sprigs
Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Fill a large cast iron skillet with 1/2 inch oil and heat over high heat until shimmering. Working in batches, fry eggplant slices, turning, until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer fried eggplant to a paper towel–lined half sheet pan and sprinkle with salt. Repeat with remaining eggplant, topping up oil as needed.
In a 6-cup baking dish, arrange a layer of eggplant slices. Top with a thin layer of tomato sauce, followed by shredded mozzarella and oregano leaves. Continue layering eggplant, sauce, cheese, and herbs to fill baking dish. Do not add oregano to the top layer.
Bake eggplant Parmesan until bubbling and browned on top, about 20 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes to reabsorb juices. Sprinkle with oregano leaves and serve.
6. Roasted Eggplant With Tahini, Pine Nuts, and Lentils
Reminiscent of a deconstructed baba ganoush, this homey, soul-satisfying dish consists of caramelized roasted eggplant served over stewed lentils with crunchy roasted pine nuts. The star is an incredibly light, creamy tahini sauce—which we’d love to take credit for, but in fact, the technique comes from Michael Solomonov’s fantastic Israeli cookbook, Zahav.
This dish of eggplant roasted until caramelized and tender, served over stewed lentils with an extraordinarily light and creamy tahini sauce and crunchy pine nuts, was dinner and lunch for more meals than I care to count a couple of weeks back. Not that I’m complaining: It’s extremely good.
It’s very rare that I’m completely satisfied with a technique the first time I try it, but after some serious tinkering with the technique for making tahini sauce that Michael Solomonov details in his book, Zahav, I couldn’t find any way to really improve upon it. With the exception of a few minor changes in ratios, it’s essentially step for step how he does it. It works wonders as an ingredient in dips, in a salad dressing, or, as I’m using it here, as a sauce for roasted eggplant.
For the Lentils:
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 small carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks (about 1 cup; 170g)
- 2 small stalks celery, cut into 1/4-inch slices (about 1 cup; 115g)
- 1 medium onion, finely diced (about 1 cup; 225g)
- 6 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 12 ounces (340g) brown or de Puy lentils
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 cups homemade vegetable stock or water (about 1L) (see note)
- Kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons (10ml) red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or sherry vinegar
- Freshly ground black pepper
For the Eggplant:
- 2 large Italian or small globe eggplants, about 1 pound (450g) each
- 4 tablespoons (60ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 large sprigs fresh rosemary
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1/4 cup pine nuts (about 2 1/2 ounces; 70g)
- 1 recipe Tahini Sauce With Garlic and Lemon
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
For the Lentils: Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 450°F to prepare for roasting eggplant. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add carrots, celery, and onion and cook, stirring, until softened but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add lentils, bay leaves, stock or water, and a pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer, cover with the lid partially ajar, and cook until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. (Top up with water if lentils are at any point not fully submerged.) Remove lid, stir in vinegar, and reduce until lentils are moist but not soupy. Season to taste with salt and pepper, cover, and keep warm until ready to serve.
For the Eggplant: While lentils cook, cut each eggplant in half. Score flesh with the tip of a paring knife in a cross-hatch pattern at 1-inch intervals. Transfer to a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet, cut side up, and brush each eggplant half with 1 tablespoon oil, letting each brushstroke be fully absorbed before brushing with more. Season with salt and pepper. Place a rosemary sprig on top of each one. Transfer to oven and roast until completely tender and well charred, 25 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven and discard rosemary.
To Serve: Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and pine nuts in a medium skillet set over medium heat. Cook, tossing nuts frequently, until golden brown and aromatic, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl to halt cooking. Stir half of parsley and rosemary into lentils and transfer to a serving platter. Arrange eggplant halves on top. Spread a few tablespoons of tahini sauce over each eggplant half and sprinkle with pine nuts. Sprinkle with remaining parsley and rosemary, drizzle with additional olive oil, and serve.
7. Stovetop Eggplant With Harissa, Chickpeas, and Cumin Yogurt
Most eggplant recipes direct you to either cut the eggplant before cooking or roast it whole. In this one, we peel the eggplant and then pan-fry it whole, so that the exterior browns while the inside steams.
It’s served swimming in an easy yogurt-based sauce, spiked with harissa and cumin and bulked up with tomatoes and chickpeas. Feel free to use a heavier hand with the harissa if you want the dish extra spicy.
Eggplants have always been a difficult vegetable for me. They come in different shapes, sizes, colors, and stripes and are surrounded by dos and don’ts. But with enough delicious recipes under your belt, it’s pretty easy to overlook the post-cooking appearance and realize that all those dos and don’ts are really more suggestions than hard-and-fast rules. This recipe, which combines small Italian eggplants cooked whole in olive oil along with harissa, chickpeas, and tomatoes, is one such preparation.
Why this recipe works:
- Frying the eggplants whole browns the outside while steaming in the inside
- The tomatoes blister and breakdown to make an impromptu sauce
- Harissa adds depth and flavor to the dish, plus it tastes great with eggplant
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 5 to 6 small Italian eggplants, peeled and trimmed
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ tablespoon harissa, plus more as desired
- 1 (15-oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
- 1 1/2 cups 2% Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- ½ cup picked parsley leaves
Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over high heat until shimmering. Add the eggplants and lower the heat to medium. Season with salt and pepper as you rotate the eggplants, browning them on all sides. Continue to cook, turning regularly, until a fork inserted into the eggplant meets no resistance (you may have to stand them up on their fat end to finish cooking the thickest parts), about 20 minutes, lowering the heat and sprinkling water into the pan as necessary if the eggplants threaten to burn or smoke excessively.
Mix the harissa, chickpeas and tomatoes together, then add to the eggplants. Cook until the tomatoes have blistered and broken down, about 5 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper and add water as necessary to thin to a saucy consistency. Meanwhile, combine the yogurt and cumin in a serving bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
Top the eggplant mixture with the parsley, drizzle with more extra virgin olive oil, and serve with the yogurt on the side.
8. Sichuan-Style Braised Eggplant With Pickled Chilies and Garlic (Yu Xiang Qie Zi)
Eggplant is at its most delicious when it’s charred, and the best way to get a good char is to brine it first. Here, we soak the eggplant in a salt solution and stir-fry it until it’s thoroughly browned.
The eggplant then cooks through in a thick, glossy sauce flavored with Sichuan broad bean paste, black vinegar, Shaoxing wine, hot chilies, ginger, and garlic—we add just a little cornstarch to help thicken it, but not so much that it’ll turn gloppy.
Despite its translation—”fish fragrant eggplant,”—yu xiang qie zi actually contains no seafood or meat products whatsoever. It gets its name from the combination of hot, sour, and sweet flavors that are typically served with fish in its native Sichuan. Smoky eggplant is stir-fried until tender, then tossed with a quick sauce flavored with chilies, black vinegar, sugar, and ginger, and garlic for a hearty, flavor-packed dish that comes together in one wok with minimal effort.
Why this recipe works:
- Soaking the eggplant in salted water allows some of its cell structure to break down, which subsequently allows it to soften more efficiently in the hot wok.
- Cooking the eggplant until charred delivers the best, deepest flavor.
- Kosher salt
- 1 1/2 pounds Chinese or Japanese eggplants (about 3), trimmed, split into quarters lengthwise and cut into 3- to 4-inch lengths
- 2 red Thai bird chilies (or any small hot red chili)
- 3 tablespoons white vinegar or rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Chinkiang vinegar (use a not-too-fancy balsamic vinegar in its place if unavailable)
- 1 1/4 teaspoons cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
- 4 medium cloves minced garlic (about 4 teaspoons)
- 4 scallions, whites thinly sliced, greens cut into 1/3-inch segments
- 2 tablespoons Sichuan chili broad bean paste(Doubanjiang)
- Roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish
Combine 1/2 cup kosher salt with 2 quarts water in a medium bowl. Add eggplant pieces, skin-side up, and set aside to soak for at least 10 and up to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat white vinegar in a small saucepan until simmering. Place sliced chilies in a small bowl and pour hot vinegar on top. Let rest for 5 minutes, then add wine, sugar, soy sauce, and Chinkiang vinegar. Stirring constantly, add corn starch and stir until dissolved. Set sauce aside. Drain eggplant carefully and pat dry with paper towels.
Heat oil in a wok over high heat until smoking. Reduce heat to medium add eggplant, and cook, tossing occasionally, until softened and well browned on all sides. Push to sides of wok. Return wok to high heat and add ginger, garlic, and scallions. Cook, stirring and tossing constantly, until fragrant and raw bite is gone, about 30 seconds. Add broad bean paste and cook, stirring for about 30 seconds. Pour in chili sauce, making sure to scrape in any sugar or starch that may have settled on the bottom.
Cook, tossing constantly, until sauce is thickened, glossy, and coats eggplants nicely, 1 to 3 minutes (if the sauce overthickens, thin with a few tablespoons of water). Transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with chopped fresh cilantro leaves, and serve immediately.
9. Spiced Shrimp and Eggplant Stir-Fry
Sweet, subtly briny shrimp pair exceptionally well with the mild flavor of baby black eggplants. For this Indian take on a stir-fry, we cook the two quickly with tomato, onion, chilies, ginger-garlic paste, and plenty of cumin and turmeric, making the dish warm with spice but not over-seasoned. Try serving it with rice pilaf or—my favorite—freshly made roti.
- Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 teaspoons ginger-garlic paste (bottled or made by combining 1 teaspoon each grated garlic and ginger)
- 2 teaspoons cumin powder divided
- 2/3 pound small shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 1/2 tablespoon oil
- 1 medium red onion, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
- 2 small green chilies, slit
- 1/2 cup chopped tomato
- 2 teaspoons red chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1 cup water
- 3 baby black eggplants cut lengthwise into 4 (or two depending on size)
Combine 1 teaspoon salt, turmeric, ginger-garlic paste,1 teaspoon cumin powder, and the shrimp in a medium bowl and set aside. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add onions and cook, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add green chilli and chopped tomato. Stir until tomato is broken down and starting to get dry, about 5 minutes. Add remaining cumin, red chilli and coriander powders and vigorously until fragrant, about 2 minutes. (Add drops of water if you think the paste is sticking to the bottom or the powders are burning.) Add eggplants and stir to coat with spice paste. Add water and season to taste with salt. Cover and cook until eggplant is tender and most of its liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes.
Add the shrimp and stir. Cook uncovered until the shrimp is opaque and curled and the eggplant is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Serve hot with roti or steamed rice and daal.
10. Eggplant, Squash, and Cherry Tomato Hash With Baked Eggs
This colorful, brunch-friendly dish of baked eggs perched in a nest of sautéed summer vegetables walks a fine line between hash and ratatouille. Par-cooking the eggplant in the microwave and squeezing out its water helps with browning, and keeps the eggplant from absorbing too much oil, while cooking the squash and zucchini separately helps preserve their delicate flavor and texture. This is one occasion in which you’ll want to use high-quality olive oil—and don’t skimp on it, either.
- 2 Italian eggplants, sliced in half and cut into 1/2-inch disks
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 medium summer squash, sliced in half and cut into 1/4-inch disks
- 1 medium zucchini, sliced in half and cut into 1/4-inch disks
- 1 medium onion, cut in half and cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 2 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, split in half
- 4 eggs
- 2 tablespoons slived chives
- Hot sauce or chili paste for serving
To Cook Eggplant in the Microwave: Season eggplant slices lightly on both sides with salt. Place double layer of paper towels or clean kitchen towel on large plate and lay single layer of eggplant slices on top. Top with 2 more layers paper towels or clean kitchen towel. Top with second large plate and place another layer of paper towels and eggplant on top. Top with third large plate. Microwave on high power until eggplant is easily compressed, about 3 minutes (be careful, plates will be hot). Press eggplant slices firmly between paper towels until compressed. Set aside on a large plate. Repeat microwaving and pressing steps until all eggplant slices are compressed. Continue with step 3. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and preheat oven to 400°F.
To Cook Eggpant in Oven: Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 375°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a double layer of paper towels. Spread eggplant slices over towels in a single layer and top with a second layer of paper towels. Top with a second rimmed baking sheet. Bake until eggplant slices are easily compressed, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and press down on top tray to compress slices. Let cool, then transfer eggplant to a large plate and continue with step 3. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and increase heat to 400°F.
Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large non-stick or cast iron skillet over high heat until shimmering. Add eggplant, season to taste with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring and tossing occasionally, until well browned, about 3 minutes. Return to large plate.
Add additional 2 tablespoons of oil to skillet and heat until shimmering. Add squash and zucchini slices, season to taste with salt and pepper, and cook, tossing occasionally, until well browned, about 5 minutes.
Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to skillet and heat until shimmering. Add onions, season to taste with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until onions are softened and just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring, until they soften, about 5 minutes. Return eggplant, zucchini, and squash to skillet.
To complete, divide mixture between four individual oven-safe serving dishes. Create a well in the center of each one and break an egg into it. Bake until egg is barely set but yolk is still soft, about 6 minutes. Alternatively, leave mixture in large skillet, create four wells, break an egg into each, and bake until eggs are barely set but yolks are still soft, about 6 minutes. Season eggs with salt and pepper and sprinkle with chives. Serve immediately with hot sauce or chili paste.