Seasonal Cooking: 6 Sensational Eggplant Recipes

There are plenty of reasons to enjoy summer, and eating eggplant usually isn’t the first that jumps to mind. In reality, though, eggplant is one of the greatest culinary offerings we can enjoy during the summer season. Get your kicks in, cooking with eggplant until the season comes to a close in early fall! Unlike many other vegetables, eggplant has a hearty flavor that can not only serve as a side dish, but can take up the reigns as a main player, like in eggplant parmesan. The following 6 recipes offer a refreshingly delicious take on one of the world’s most versatile veggies. Dig in!

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

1. Eggplant, Heirloom Tomato, and Buffalo Mozzarella Stacks

The mild taste of the fresh mozzarella in this recipe from Fine Cooking will complement and absorb the lively flavors of summer-ripened tomatoes and eggplant. The dish is accented with hints of thyme, marjoram, and pepper. This recipe takes about 40 minutes to complete and yields 4 servings.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 (¼-inch-thick) slices heirloom tomatoes (from 3 to 4 medium)
  • 8 (¼-inch-thick) slices eggplant (from 1 medium eggplant)
  • 2 balls buffalo mozzarella (5 to 7 ounces each), cut into 8 slices

Directions: Prepare a medium-high gas or charcoal grill fire. In a medium bowl, mix the olive oil, thyme, marjoram, lemon zest, red pepper flakes (optional), ¼ teaspoon salt, and  teaspoon pepper.

Brush the tomato and eggplant slices with 1 tablespoon of the herb oil. Season with ¼ teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper. Marinate the mozzarella in the remaining oil. Grill the eggplant, flipping once, until nicely browned and tender. This will take 2 to 3 minutes.

To serve, put a tomato slice on four plates. Top each with a slice of eggplant, then a slice of mozzarella. Repeat, ending with a tomato slice. Drizzle with any remaining oil and serve.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

2. Eggplant, Green Olive, and Provolone Pizza

Pizza is never out of season, and these fresh, savory toppings offer a great combination of summer flavors. This recipe from Epicurious takes 30 minutes to complete and yields 4 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  •  cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 ¼ pound eggplant, cut into ¾-inch-thick rounds
  • 1 pound store-bought pizza dough at room temperature
  • 5 ounces sliced provolone, cut into short thin matchsticks (1 ¼ cups)
  • 18 pitted green olives, coarsely chopped ( cup)
  • ¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

Directions: Prepare a gas grill for direct-heat cooking over medium heat. Stir together garlic and oil. Brush some of garlic oil on both sides of eggplant and season with ¾ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Grill, covered, turning once, until tender, 6 to 8 minutes total. Cut into roughly 1-inch pieces.

Stretch dough into about a 12-by-10-inch rectangle on a large baking sheet and lightly brush with garlic oil. Oil grill rack, then put dough on grill, oiled side down. Brush top with more garlic oil. Grill, covered, until underside is golden-brown, 1 ½ to 3 minutes.

Using tongs, return crust to baking sheet, grilled side up. Scatter eggplant, cheese, olives, and parsley over crust. Slide pizza from sheet onto grill and grill, covered, until underside is golden-brown and cheese is melted. This will take about 3 minutes.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

3. Grilled Ratatouille

Ratatouille is a traditional stewed vegetable dish with French origins. Many versions of the stew include eggplant, including this variation from Serious EatsRecipe takes 30 minutes to complete and yields 4-6 side servings.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup, plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
  • 3 teaspoons freshly minced garlic (about 3 medium cloves)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh marjoram leaves
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 3 roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 large zucchini, quartered lengthwise
  • 1 large yellow squash, quartered lengthwise
  • 1 medium globe eggplant, cut into ½-inch rounds
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into ½-inch rounds and skewered horizontally
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and halved
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and halved
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions: In a small bowl whisk together 2 tablespoons oil, vinegar, garlic, basil, marjoram, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper to taste; set aside.

Place tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, onion, and bell peppers on a large-rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle remaining ¼ cup oil over vegetables and season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss to thoroughly coat vegetables in oil and seasoning.

Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place vegetable slices on grill and cook until browned on both sides, about 3 minutes per side for zucchini, squash, and eggplant, and about 5 minutes per side for tomatoes, onion, and peppers. Transfer vegetables to cutting board and cut into large pieces.

Transfer vegetables to a large bowl, pour in herb vinaigrette and toss to combine. Serve immediately while warm or at room temperature.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

4. Asian Grilled Eggplant with Soy Sesame Sauce

One of the best parts of eggplant—besides its natural heartiness and flavor—is how beneficial it can be for your health. According to Livestrong, eggplant is low in calories and is loaded with vitamins and minerals. This dish from Jeanette’s Healthy Living incorporates Asian-inspired flavors and is a delicious spin on eggplant’s traditional preparation. It takes just 15 minutes to complete and yields 4 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Japanese eggplants, trimmed, cut in half lengthwise
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil plus more for brushing eggplant
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 scallion, minced (reserve a little for garnish)
  • dash of hot pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon gluten-free soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon organic sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

Directions: Brush a little olive oil on both sides of eggplant pieces. Grill until soft and cooked through.

Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a small saucepan. Add garlic, scallion and red pepper flakes, and sauté until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Turn off heat and add soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar and sesame oil. Stir well and serve over grilled eggplant. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and minced scallions.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

5. Grilled Eggplant and Red Pepper with Israeli Couscous Recipe

Delicious Israeli couscous has larger, more pearl-like beads than the couscous to which you might be accustomed. Combined with fresh peppers and eggplant, it makes for a lovely summer side dish. This recipe from Chow takes 45 minutes to complete and yields 4-6 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons roasted tahini
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup Israeli couscous
  • 3 cups water
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium eggplant (about 1 pound), trimmed and cut lengthwise into ¼-inch-thick slices
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and quartered
  • ¼ cup loosely packed fresh Italian parsley leaves, coarsely chopped

Directions: Place the lemon juice and tahini in a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Add the garlic and shallot and stir to combine. While whisking continuously, slowly drizzle in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil until completely incorporated; set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the couscous and cook, stirring occasionally, until light golden brown and toasted, about 3 minutes.

Carefully add the water, season with salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the couscous is tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain well through a fine-mesh strainer. While still warm, add the couscous to the reserved tahini dressing and stir to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed; set aside.

Heat a grill pan or outdoor grill to high (about 450 to 550 degrees Fahrenheit). Meanwhile, place the eggplant and red pepper slices on a baking sheet and rub both sides with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. When the grill is ready, place the eggplant and pepper slices on the grill and cook, uncovered, flipping halfway through, until browned and dark grill marks appear on both sides, about 6 to 8 minutes total for the eggplant and 10 to 12 minutes total for the red pepper. Transfer to a cutting board.

When the vegetables are cool enough to handle, cut them into small dice and add them to the couscous. Sprinkle with the parsley and stir to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

6. Antonia’s Pasta Alle Melanzana (Eggplant Pasta)

This classic Italian recipe from Food Network will have your diners begging for more! Cheese, garlic, and onion help take the eggplant home in this dish. Preparation and cooking of the recipe take approximately an hour, and it yields 4-6 servings of the dish.

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large Vidalia onion, chopped
  • 3 large eggplants, chopped (5 cups)
  • 3 whole garlic cloves, peeled
  • Leaves from 10 to 12 sprigs of fresh basil
  • Kosher salt
  • 10 to 15 plum tomatoes
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1 ½ pounds dry fettucine
  • ½ pound packaged mozzarella, cut into ½-cubes
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into ½-cubes
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions: Heat ½ cup of oil and the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and eggplant and cook gently over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring often, until tender. Towards the end of cooking time, add the whole garlic cloves and half of the basil leaves.

In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the tomatoes for 4 to 5 minutes until the skin splits and the tomatoes are softened. Remove the tomatoes with a slotted spoon and place them in a mesh colander set over a large bowl. Reserve the cooking liquid.

When they are cool enough to handle, core the tomatoes and peel off the skin. Using clean hands, squish the tomatoes, pushing the pulp through the sieve into the bowl underneath. Add the tomato liquid to the eggplant and then continue to push the tomato pulp through the sieve, until you have only seeds and hard pulp pieces left. Finally, add the rest of the pulpy liquid to the eggplants and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the sugar and continue to cook for 10 more minutes, until thickened.

In the meantime, bring the reserved cooking liquid back to a boil, add additional salt, and cook the fettucine according to directions on the package. Drain well.

To serve, spoon a third of the eggplant into a bowl and set aside. Toss the pasta in the sauté pan with the remaining eggplant and add the packaged mozzarella. Place the mixture in a large serving bowl and top with the reserved eggplant, the fresh mozzarella and the Parmesan. Garnish with the remaining basil leaves and serve hot.

More from Life Cheat Sheet: