Eat Seasonally in July: Eggplant Recipes
Dark, glossy eggplant starts to appear in the produce sections and at farmers’ markets about this time every summer. It’s a standby ingredient for turning Italian classics into vegetarian meals, like Eggplant Parmigiana and Eggplant Lasagna. Other well-known eggplant recipes include baba ganoush, ratatouille, and moussaka. Eggplant is also perfect for when you’re grilling vegetables as a side dish.
If you aren’t already an eggplant connoisseur, get ready to learn how to add it to your summer menu. We’ll explain how to choose and store eggplant for the best flavor and texture, and highlight a few eggplant recipes to try too.
Eggplant Recipes: How to Choose Eggplant
When evaluating eggplant at the grocery store, there are a few key points to keep in mind. First, like other fruits such as citrus and melon, look for eggplant that feels heavy for its size. But don’t go for the largest eggplant on display; larger eggplant tend to be older, which means they aren’t as fresh and may be more bitter.
You also want to choose an eggplant that is firm and doesn’t show any signs of shriveling on the skin. Shiny skin is another indicator of freshness and proper storage. The calyx — leaves and stem of an eggplant — should be green, not brown.
Eggplant Recipes: How to Store Eggplant
Eggplant is actually a tropical fruit, which means it does better when stored on the counter than in the refrigerator. Extended cold temperatures can damage eggplant. You can also store eggplant in a cool, dark cupboard or pantry, especially in the summer when your kitchen may get pretty warm. Wherever you decide to put your eggplant, don’t leave it in a plastic bag, which will cause it to spoil more quickly.
Eggplant Recipes: Crispy Baked Eggplant
If you’re new to eggplant, start with this recipe from Fountain Avenue Kitchen. Ann notes that her family wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about eggplant until she tried this simple snack or side dish.
You can use any size eggplants, but smaller eggplants will give you more crispy coating on each slice. To make sure they stay crispy, toss the slices with a dash of salt and drain in a colander for 30 minutes. This recipe is also easily modified if you need to go gluten-free; swap out the panko bread crumbs for crumbled Rice Chex.
Eggplant Recipes: Roasted Vegetable Shooter Sandwich
You’ll need to plan ahead for these sandwiches from Serious Eats, but the results are deliciously portable. The entire loaf, with all the roasted vegetables and cheese packed inside of it, spends several hours pressed between cutting boards with a heavy weight on top.
This process flattens all the ingredients and concentrates their flavors. Because all of the vegetables have been cooked and drained to minimize moisture, the results aren’t soggy at all.
Eggplant Recipes: Cauliflower, Eggplant, and Gouda Bake
This casserole from Jessica Seinfeld makes for a great side dish, or even a vegetarian main dish if you double the recipe. Slice the florets, cube the eggplant, and then roast them together with some oil. This step helps ensure your veggies keep their shape when you bake them with the cheese and bread crumb mixture.
Speaking of bread crumbs, we recommend using panko or Rice Chex for this recipe too. Extra crunch is always delicious, and it complements the roasted vegetables and creamy cheese.