Eggplant season is here! That means your kitchen is nicely decorated with some nice shades of deep purple from your veggie share. Technically speaking, eggplants are a fruit, since their seeds are contained inside the flesh.
They’re high in antioxidants and good for your brain. As part of the nightshade family, they’re cousins to produce such as tomatoes and potatoes. And although they’re often associated with Italian cooking – the term ‘Italian’ eggplant actually covers a number of varieties – the food, in fact, originated in areas of India and China and was introduced to Italy via trade routes.
Here at Local Roots, we could nosh on simple grilled eggplant all day (highly recommended). But if you’re looking for a little variety in your eggplant dishes, we’ve got you covered. Here are 5 fun ways that you can prepare eggplant:
1. The “Classics”
If you’re a traditionalist at heart, we’d recommend going for some classic Italian dishes. Eggplant Parmigiana, Eggplant Caponata, and Ratatouille come to mind.
2. There’s a salad for everything
Heard of a Caprese Salad? Well, eggplant goes with that nicely. Simply slice up some eggplant, drizzle with olive oil, and roast it until golden and tender. Once it’s roasted, let it cool to room temperature and then layer it on a serving platter with slices of tomato, mozzarella, and some basil leaves. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic, season to taste with salt and pepper, et voila!
3. Veggie burger alternative
Who needs a burger patty when you have eggplant!? Just slice the eggplant to your preferred thickness, brush with olive oil and season with S &P, and grill for about 5 minutes or until tender on one side. Flip and top with cheese, if desired, and grill for another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Place on a toasted bun and dress it up as you would any other burger!
4. Did somebody say ‘flatbread?’
Who doesn’t love a good flatbread… Simply sautee some eggplant slices in olive oil, and then place on half loaf (sliced horizontally) of ciabatta, focaccia, or pain rustique with your favorite toppings. You could go with a classic marinara sauce, mozzarella, and basil. Or try mixing it up with some pesto, goat cheese, roasted veggies, cured meats – the opportunities are endless!
5. You can pickle that!
Sometimes we run into the happy problem of simply having too much eggplant at once. Good thing is, they taste amazing when preserved! Simply follow your favorite pickling recipe and include spices that would go well with the flavor profile. In this case, we’d recommend garlic, basil, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Here’s an easy recipe that will get you going.
Got an eggplant recipe you love and want to share? We’d love to hear it! Send us your recipe or recommendations at [email protected], or tag us on Instagram @LocalRootsNYC for a chance to be featured on our site. And don’t forget to use the #madewithlocalroots hashtag if you post fun dishes made with your Local Roots shares!
Bonus: Eggplant storage
If you plan to prepare or eat the eggplant within a couple days, it’s actually best to store it at room temperature, kept in a cool, dry spot away from direct sunlight. If you’re not going to use it within a couple days, refrigeration is best – in this case, wrap in a paper towel and place in a reusable container or perforated plastic bag in the crisper section of your refrigerator for use within 5 – 7 days. You can also blanch or steam the eggplant and then freeze it for up to six months.