Eggplant Recipe Ideas

After weeks of skipping my Saturday morning market run for various reasons, I was finally able to go back to the marché des Batignolles this weekend.

It was the perfect morning for a comeback. I’d awoken early, it was mild and sunny, and as I rode my bicycle down the boulevard in my shower-wet hair, I was seized by that swelling feeling of expectation and accomplishment that makes Saturday morning market runs so addictive: you can’t wait to see what glowing things the market stalls will hold, but whatever you end up buying, you know your weekend is bound to be a fine one after you’ve filled the produce drawer, the star-shaped fruit bowl, and the baby green flower vase.

I got half a dozen fresh-laid and mucky eggs and just as many white peaches, a hefty bundle of rhubarb stalks, a bouquet of orange and crimson dahlias, some ripe-tender tomatoes, and, most excitedly, from my favorite grower, a bunch of small, gleaming, taut-skinned eggplants — my first this year.

The eggplant and I have a bit of a complicated relationship*: I adore it when it’s well cooked, but I’m always suspicious of the oil content when it is. And I’ve long found it tricky to cook right myself — too often it turned out a spongy, bitter mess — so I didn’t eat it nearly as often as I would have liked.

But with time and experience, I have found that a) I have better success cooking small eggplants, no more than 200 grams or 7 ounces each, and b) whether grilled, roasted, or sautéed, these guys need to cook a good long while in order to become the best silky self that they can be.

Tomato salad with roasted eggplant.

Tomato salad with roasted eggplant.

And so my weekend has been a bit of an eggplant festival, featuring eggplant spaghetti (cubed eggplant sautéed in olive oil with tiny bits of young carrots and sliced shallots, a splash of white wine, and basil to finish), a tomato and roasted eggplant salad (you mash the flesh of a roasted eggplant with a good olive oil, salt, and pepper, and combine that with ripe tomatoes, black olives and more basil — the best part is tipping the plate to drink the juices when you’re done), and some roasted eggplant and yogurt dip, dolloped onto poached eggs placed atop toasted slices of sourdough bread.

I’ve now used up the stash of eggplants I bought on Saturday, but I will soon buy more to make miso-glazed eggplant (a hit of my summer last year), and also to try and reproduce the cold eggplant and almond soup I had at the Plaza Athénée, when Lawrence Aboucaya, founder of Pousse-Pousse, was the cook in residence.

Join the conversation!

What are your favorite recipes for eggplant? Any secret tips or brilliant pairings to share?

* And now you know why this blog is not called “Chocolate & Eggplant.”

Cold eggplant and almond soup, as served at the Plaza Athénée.

Cold eggplant and almond soup, as served at the Plaza Athénée.

  • I’ve made a very similar eggplant spaghetti, but with onions and tomatoes (jarred tomato sauce if I’ve being honest, actually, but it was a good brand i swear!) and some olives as well. Delicious! And I’m glad you landed on this name for your blog, somehow chocolate and zucchini sounds much more appetizing than chocolate and eggplant :)

  • Lamb-stuffed baby eggplants with tomato sauce!

  • I am with you on the eggplant front! I am always scared to try something new with them for fear that it will be a giant fail. Thanks for sharing your tips!

  • THis is a delicious one. Congrats, what a nice recipe.

  • Ena

    I’ve always disliked eggplants, especially since just about the only way it was served in my country was eggplant slices covered in flour and/or crumbs and fried, which I had a really hard time liking as it was almost always too bitter for my taste. But then I discovered Smitten Kitchen’s eggplant salad on toasts which I love. I have to try your tomato salad with eggplant. The photo is so beautiful and inviting!

  • EB

    You’re so excited about the eggplant! It’s kinda infectious :)

  • Lou

    There’s a new restaurant here in Melbourne that does a beautiful steamed eggplant with silken tofu and chilli dish (you can see it in their photos here). I’d never eaten steamed eggplant before, and it was delicious! I’ve tried to recreate the dish at home, using this Kylie Kwong recipe as a reference. So easy (and easier than spending half an hour over a grill pan frying eggplant slices)!

    • That sounds wonderful, thank you, Lou.

  • I used to have a similar love/hate relationship with eggplant, before I discovered how delicious it is slow-simmered in Thai curry paste. Now I probably eat it at least once a week — which is great, since it is the focal point of this week’s CSA delivery!

    I can’t wait to cook up a batch tomorrow night, in fact. Yum.

    • Oh, yum. What kind of Thai curry paste do you use for that?

  • Rachel

    I make a salad similar to the one you describe, and of course eggplant caviar… but another eggplant dip worth trying is picada de pez de tierra – you just fry chunks of eggplant in olive oil with garlic, coriander and salt until soft, blitz it in a food processor and finish it with pimenton. So good and so simple! I’ve also loved every single eggplant recipe I’ve tried from the Ottolenghi cookbooks (and there are a lot of them).

    Congrats on getting your kitchen back – you must be thrilled!

  • (Not so) Patiently awaiting the return of eggplant here in the American Northeast…so I can make your oven ratatouille! We lived on it last summer.
    Thanks for all the marvellous recipes!

  • Cubed (unpeeled) eggplants that have slowly roasted in the oven with some good quality balsamic vinegar, olive oil and fleur de sel (and maybe some really ripe tomatoes) are pure pleasure too, served on a bowl of hot rice and topped with fresh flat parsley… (my kids love them with some crushed roasted peanuts too).
    When thinly sliced, lightly brushed with garlic infused olive oil, and quickly grilled, they’re also fantastic to top a pizza.

    Vive l’été :)

  • I once made a delicious eggplant pasta dish with eggplant roasted until soft, flesh scooped and blended with fresh basil, chopped tomato, lots of garlic, a pinch of sugar, and a bit of balsamic vinegar and oil. Unfortunately, my husband has a strong aversion to eggplant so I don’t get to eat it as often as I’d like.

  • Baba ganoush is one of my favorites! My mom also makes an eggplant curry which is super yummy!

  • Liana

    Fabulous!! I’ve seen the marché des Batignolles when I go to church (it’s right across the street, but it’s not in operation on Sundays) and I’ve wondered if I should check it out … definitely going to this Saturday :) Eggplants are one of my FAVORITE veggies.

    My mom makes it in a way that I absolutely adore – sauté some ground pork (more for flavoring than as a main; eggplants are the star here :D) in a little bit of oil, add eggplants sliced on the diagonal, douse it with oyster sauce, add enough water to cover the eggplants, and put the lid on. It’s done when the eggplants are suitably mushy and delicious. It’s not a very pretty plate, but it’s really good and simple.

  • I totally agree with the wonderful feeling that is buying up big at the weekend markets. I don’t go anywhere near often enough and supermarket food just isn’t the same. Not a huge fan of cooking eggplants myself (in the too hard basket) but have a good recipe for eggplant lasagna that gets a go now and then.

  • Noga

    What a lovely, summery post! This is one of my favourties– eggplant pickles made in cider vinegar. Its not fatty, and it is flexible enough to fit right in with various different salads and pastas :)

    • Thanks for the recommendation, Noga, I’m definitely bookmarking that one.

  • Muriel

    I love the combination of Moutabel (aubergine and tahini dip) with smoked salmon. A combination discovered by a friend of mine and a real winner.

    Another favourite is: Involtini
    Grilled slices of Aubergine filled with a mixture of bulgur, feta, pistachio nuts, lamb mince, parsley and mint. Top with a tomato sauce and more feta and nuts. Bake in the oven untill the cheese has melted and browned. Delicious also when eaten cold the next day.

  • This looks delicious. I thought for years I didn’t like eggplant, but have recently discovered when cooked the right way, it’s really great! This looks really fresh…thanks!

  • I’m so excited about finding your food blog! I have eggplant growing in my garden so I’m super excited to try this recipe. Thank you!

  • Eggplant IS tough to cook. But that spaghetti looks amazing… So does the soup. I’m totally inspired :)

  • NicM

    Now you’ve got me wishing it was Saturday already so I can see what’s new at the farmer’s market! I like baby eggplants stuffed with Indian-spiced ground lamb, Nigella Lawson’s soft and sharp involtini (great make ahead dish for groups and it’s vegetarian too), and a dish we made up at our first big BBQ this year that’s basically a grilled caponata salad. Grilling is definitely my favorite way to cook eggplant.

  • Eggplant is hard for me to get it just right. I think this would be a winner. It looks beautiful!

  • I used to never be quite sure whether I liked it – I, being English, call it aubergine, not eggplant – but used it in ratatouille and vegetable stews because it made a good “filler”. But last month I was in France and picked up a magazine in some random supermarket which was focussing on recipes of summer vegetables with fresh cheese. One I tried, and adapted for my own use, involved slow-frying an aubergine, chopped small, with a bit of garlic, and letting it cook really, really slowly, then stirring in some fresh goats’ cheese or cream cheese…. wonderful with pasta!

  • If you want to avoid that the eggplant absorb a lot of oil i have a tip. Slice or dice the eggplant(s) and put for about 10 minutes in a bowl of cold water. then drain and ready to cook without fears

  • dory

    I also have a love/hate relationship with eggplant. It can be one of my favorite vegetables, but when cooked not so well it can be bitter and even fishy (not in a good way). There are several ways I do like it. Ratatouille is, of course, classic. I used to like eggplant parmagiana, but it takes a horrifying amount of oil, is really time consuming to construct, and is often based on pretty icky bottled tomato sauces, because making sauce from scratch just adds more steps to an already complicated recipe. There are two restaurant favorites to make with eggplant that are quite doable in a home kitchen. One is pasta “a la Norma” I think it is called. or pasta with tomato and eggplant sauce. I would make it with with my favorite fresh tomato sauce. I make this even in winter now. I saute fresh tomatoes with onions and garlic until soft, and add a squirt of Amore tomato paste from the tube that looks like a toothpaste tube, and a huge amount of the same brand’s sundried tomato paste. The sun dried tomato paste is quite salty so I am careful not to salt until after adding it. With the addition of the two tomato pastes, the sauce is edible even in winter, and I cannot wait to try it with our garden’s first ripe tomatoes. I finish with fresh basil which is now available year round, and if using winter tomatoes and they are sour, with a squirt of agave. Summer tomatoes don’t need the sweetener, and may not need the tomato paste, although I love the sun-dried. Thai curry squash with coconut milk and red curry paste (available in ethnic sections of the grocery store) is a good way to use eggplant. It is traditionally made with tiny green Thai eggplants, but I actually prefer it with European-style eggplants which are less tough and seedy. The trick is to find a squash that is very firm and sweet such as kabocha.

    Have fun everyone, and enjoy your eggplants. Ours in frosty Wisconsin, USA (ironically at about the same latitudes as Provence, but hey! enjoy those continental climates!) will be coming soon.



  • Margit van Schaick

    Thanks for all your ideas–so inspiring. I love that you try to eat nutritious food.

  • myfudo

    I am heading the the farmers market this morning, looking forward to picking up some locally grown eggplant. I am also very concerned about oil content. Baking or roasting is always the best option. Although, I must admit I am guilty of loving it breaded and fried in olive oil!

  • Hi Clotilde,

    I’ve tried lots of aubergine dishes from different cuisines, and though I try to be as impartial as i can, I still love the persian version most.

    its not a quick recipe, but it is worth all the time and effort :)

    • lekha

      I have the plumpish ones and some peppers and I was going to do a Lasagne. But this ounds so much better. I love all Persian style food.
      Thank you.

  • I, too, am fond of cooking with the smaller variety of eggplant. Not only is it cuter : ) I do find the taste less bittery and it’s just easier to work with it. Lately, I’ve been grilling a lot of colorful veggies from the farmer’s market. It may consist of two small eggplant, a bright orange bell pepper, a zucchinni or two. I’ve been placing the veggies on a baking tray and drizzling it with good quality olive oil, brushing the veggies with pressed garlic, adding some sea salt and cracked pepper and broiling it in the oven until I can hear the oil sizzling and the veggies basking in their colored glory, emitting their scents and flavors (usually only 10-15 min. is all it takes). Once out of the oven, I tear up pieces of fresh basil to put on top. Yumm!

  • Madonna

    I grow Fairy Tale eggplants in my garden. They’re tiny, even when full grown, and very sweet, tender, and beautiful with their purple and white striped skin. My favorite way to prepare them is to split in half lengthwise, rub with a crushed garlic clove, brush with olive oil, and cook on the grill until softened and lightly charred. The sprinkle with salt, pepper, and an herb from the garden, usually basil and sometimes parsley. We had them last night to accompany grilled salmon. I had seasoned the salmon with alder-smoked salt and also used that on the eggplant. Delicious!

  • At this time of year, I seem to make loads of caponata using my Sicilian grandmother’s recipe. It’s a great way to use the bounty of veggies that are in season…eggplant, peppers, onions, squash, etc.

  • Anson

    One of my favorite eggplant dish is called the “Piasok”. I could only find it being served in one restaurant here in Manila called Adarna. It is supposedly a dish from the eastern province of Quezon where they grow a lot of coconut trees. It features roasted eggplants in a rich sauce of coconut cream, garlic and onion. With a plateful of rice it is unforgettable!

  • I think the best eggplant is a rose blanca,a near white eggplant with a slight pink blush. It’s very prolific if you grow them in your garden and it has a sweet, delicate, white flesh that is much nicer than other varieties. We usually bread slices and fry them in olive oil and them use them to make veggie sandwiches.

  • That eggplant spaghetti sounds absolutely fantastic and something that I’m going to have to try. In the past, I’ve made eggplant parmesan, kind of successfully, and made an awesome capanata that goes really well with pork or chicken…

  • I could eat eggplants any meal. If I don’t worry about calories maybe my favourite recipes are caponata, and breaded and fried eggplant slices (they don’t absorb extra oil this way), marinated with sauteed green onions, vinegar and cherry tomatoes and served cold. I also like a good parmigiana or a moussaka but with grilled aubergines, less heavy. Or I cut them in wedges and roast them with a bit of olive oil until soft.

  • as i am among the former eggplant dislikers, i am even more happy to have another recipe idea to prove me wrong!

  • I once cooked an eggplant/tomato sauce to toss with linguine. It went down a hit with the Italian bf who is now my husband… I sautéed the cubed eggplant with good olive oil on a low heat until they started to melt, then set aside to drain the excess oil on kitchen towels. The tomato sauce was cooked as normal. I added the eggplant to be simmered for the last 40 minutes and also added anchovies which gave the sauce the extra oomph!

    I also love the Sicilian Caponata and the Melanzane Parmiggiana.

    Thanks for sharing. I am looking forward to reading about your eggplant with miso paste. That is a great way to eat the eggplant, I feel.

  • Sarah

    That eggplant spaghetti looks yummie! There’s a Jamie Oliver recipe (from ‘Jamie’s dinners’) that I really like: cook some penne or rigatoni, cube 2 eggplants, sauté them in olive oil with a chopped onion, add a can of chopped tomatoes (or fresh ones of course), after some 8 minutes add a tablespoon of balsamico vinagar and 4 tablespoons of light cream. Add the cooked pasta. Season with black pepper and salt. Right before you serve it, turn off the heat and add fresh basil and some 150 g of mozzarella (you can just tear the piece of cheese apart with your hands, no need to chop it). The cheese melts softly in the pasta & sauce… Mmm!

  • Stir-fried with onions and tomatoes, or marinated in various spices with plenty of spicy pepper. Great with pasta too! Savory eggplant tart…
    now there’s a piece of heaven :p

  • My favorite way to eat eggplant is grilling thin slices, brushed VERY lightly with a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, and balsamic vinegar, a little salt and pepper

    once they are grilled, I wrap them around a little goat cheese and serve as a first course. Or, sometimes I fill them with ricotta cheese, add a little tomato sauce on top and bake, as a side dish for pasta.

    I am also quite uneasy with the amount of oil some “healthy” eggplant recipes contain.

    • Oh yes, I love that kind of eggplant rolls!

  • i love eggplant! last week i made this delicious roast eggplant and chickpea soup so yummy!

  • Clotilde,

    I tried this Iraqi dish from our beloved Yotam Ottolenghi. Its amazing.

    • It does look fantastic, Mehdi, thanks for pointing me to it!

  • Katie

    Eggplant soup? Yes, please. I love eggplant, but I know what you mean about oil, still I can never turn it down.

    Favorite eggplant memory: my boyfriend surprised me after work with Eggplant Parmesan cut in the shape of hearts. Cheesy and silly, yes, still I can’t help but smile whenever I think about it.

    We also make grilled eggplant with a dill-lemon dressing. Absolutely delicious.

    • Very sweet indeed! :)

      Would you care to share the recipe or formula for that dill-lemon dressing?

  • I LOVED Lawrence’s soup at the Plaza!! If you recreate it à la C&Z, can you please please please share the recipe s’il vous plaît?? Merci!!

    • Can’t promise anything, but I’ll see what I can do! :)

  • Primordial Soup

    I never understood the ‘salting’ of the eggplant to rid it of excess water; why would I want to do that! – and replacing it with oil makes no sense. So I do the opposite, and try to infuse the delicate flesh with water to keep it from absorbing any cooking oils! I soak cubed eggplant in water before adding to ratatouille and pasta sauces (also suggested by kitchenvoyage above). For Eggplant Parmesan and Moussaka, I actually quick cook the slices in a pan of water for 2-3 minutes a side, pat dry, and place on a Silpat-lined baking sheet, then use an olive oil spray to lightly coat the eggplant before oven roasting until cooked through. I don’t use crumbs but the eggplant could be coated before baking.
    The quick cooking actually takes less time than salting. Any dish I’ve used this method for has turned out well, and no one misses the frying/oil part at all!

    • I think the idea behind salting is not so much to rid the eggplant of excess water, but to draw out some of the juices that can make it bitter when cooked.

  • What a wonderful use for all my Farmer’s Market eggplant!

  • Woo….it’s a lot of eggplants. I love eggplants, but it is not an easy task to cook delicious eggplant. I like it soft, always saute with minced pork and garlic. And I found variety of eggplants in markets. Different color, different shape and size, just don’t know how to cook them as they always have different characteristic. :)

  • Donna M.

    Been reading and got your book from my library. Read all comments from all recipes on eggplant. No one has said how to pick an eggplant out—if end is round it’s male and less seeds. Oval it’s female and more seeds. I use to make “meatballs” with. Peel and cube an eggplant—simmer in water till soft. Drain and madh. Add ingredients like for meatballs. Chill—fry, bake or simmer in sauce. Sons could not tell and one is a veggie now and other semi.

    • I will definitely have to try those eggplant “meatballs” — thank you Donna!

Get the newsletter

Receive FREE email updates with all the latest recipes, plus exclusive inspiration and Paris tips. You can also choose to be notified when a new post is published.

View the latest edition of the newsletter.