Eggplant Recipes from Around the World

Baba Ghanoush (Eggplant Dip)
Arabian Chickpea-Eggplant Stew
Teriyaki Eggplant
Chinese Eggplant
Eggplant Caponata
Melanzane a Scapici (Pickled Eggplant)
Roasted Eggplant Salad

Arab merchants discovered the eggplant in India 4,000 years and carried it to all the ports of call on their far-flung trade routes. Thomas Jefferson brought the first eggplant seeds to America. It is now a key ingredient in cuisines stretching from the Mediterranean and the Middle East through Asia to the United States.

eggplant varieties

Multiple varieties of eggplant from the farmers market in Santa Barbara, Calif., June 23, 2012


Chefs like eggplants because they “change completely to reflect the technique used to cook them and the flavors they are combined with,” says Todd English, the Boston-based Italian chef, who is the source of one of the recipes below. English says the best eggplants are firm, shiny, and heavy. Buy them just prior to using because they do not store well, and “an old eggplant will be very bitter.”

The first two recipes below are from The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean, by Paula Wolfert. To infuse eggplants with a smoky flavor in the kitchen, she wraps a large eggplant in a double thickness of foil and sets it over high flames on top of the stove, turning often until the skin is charred and the flesh has melted into a creamy pulp. Both of Wolfert’s recipes call for Near East or Aleppo pepper, distinctive ground red peppers that are “famous throughout the Middle East,” says Wolfert. They can be found at some Middle Eastern markets and through mail order outlets. If you can’t find either, she says, a mixture of 3 parts sweet Hungarian paprika and 1 part ground hot red pepper flakes “will make an acceptable substitute.”

Baba Ghanoush (Eggplant Dip) [top]

1 large eggplant (1 1/4 pounds)
4 level tablespoons tahini
1/2 teaspoon garlic, peeled and crushed with salt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or more to taste
3 to 4 tablespoons cold water
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil

Aleppo or Near East pepper or hot Hungarian paprika
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Diced ripe tomatoes

1. Pierce the eggplant in several places with a toothpick. Wrap the whole eggplant in aluminum foil and set it over a gas grill or under a broiler to cook on all sides until it collapses and begins to release a great deal of steam. If you are cooking over coals, grill the eggplant until blackened, collapsed, and cooked through.

2. Dump the eggplant into a basin of cold water; peel while still hot and allow to drain in a colander until cool. Squeeze pulp to remove any bitter juices. Mash the eggplant to a puree.

3. In a food processor, mix the tahini with the garlic and lemon juice until the mixture contracts. Thin with the water. With the machine running, add the eggplant and the salt, pepper, and olive oil.

4. Spread out in a shallow dish and garnish with pepper, parsley, and tomatoes.

Source: Adapted from The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean, by Paula Wolfert

Arabian Chickpea-Eggplant Stew [top]

1 cup chickpeas, soaked overnight
1-1/2 to 2 pounds large eggplants (about 2)
Coarse salt
8 tablespoons olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 large onions, halved and cut lengthwise into thin strips
10 small cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 cup fresh or canned tomatoes, seeded and chopped, juices reserved
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon Near East or Aleppo pepper
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed with I teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice or cinnamon
Fresh lemon juice
Sprigs of fresh mint

1. Remove and discard 3 vertical strips of skin from each eggplant, leaving it striped, then cut the whole eggplant into 2-1/2-inch chunks. Salt the pieces and leave to drain in a colander for at least 1 hour.

2. Rinse the eggplant, squeeze gently, and pat dry with paper towels. Working in batches, lightly fry the chunks in 5 tablespoons hot oil until golden brown; drain. Sprinkle the eggplant with pepper and set aside.

3. In a 2- or 3-quart casserole with a tight-fitting lid, warm the remaining olive oil and add the onions. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until limp and golden. Halve the chickpeas, add them to the pot and fry for 2 minutes. Stir in the drained eggplant, unpeeled garlic, tomatoes and their juice, tomato paste, and Near East pepper.

4. Cover tightly and cook over reduced heat without stirring 40 minutes. Stir in the crushed garlic, parsley, vinegar, sugar, and allspice.

5. Cook 10 minutes longer, or until thickened. (Up to this point, the dish can be made one day in advance. Cool, cover, and refrigerate so that the flavors will meld.)

7. To serve, return to room temperature, adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and allspice, and a few drops of lemon juice. Garnish with the mint.

Source: Adapted from The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean, by Paula Wolfert

Teriyaki Eggplant [top]

6 medium Chinese eggplants (about 1-1/2 pounds)
12 scallions, trimmed and cut into 1-1/2-inch lengths
2 tablespoons sesame oil
About 16 to 20 ten-inch bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 1 hour

Teriyaki Sauce:
6 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine or sake
2 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

1. Trim the stem ends off the eggplants, halve or quarter lengthwise, depending on thickness, and slice into 2-inch chunks. Thread 2 eggplant pieces and 3 scallion pieces alternately onto each skewer, starting and ending with scallions. Arrange the skewered vegetables on a cookie sheet and brush with the sesame oil.

2. Prepare a medium-low fire for grilling, and place the grill 3 to 4 inches from the heat. Grill the skewered eggplants and scallions, turning frequently, until well browned. Arrange on a serving platter.

3. Meanwhile, combine the sauce ingredients in a saucepan and heat until boiling. Stir to dissolve the sugar and transfer to a serving bowl.

4. Drizzle a little sauce over the skewers, and serve the rest on the side for dipping.

Source: Adapted from China Express, by Nina Simonds

Chinese Eggplant

2 pounds eggplant, rinsed, trimmed, and cut lengthwise into ½-inch-thick slices
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sesame oil

1-1/2 cups Chinese Chicken Broth (broth flavored with ginger, scallions and rice wine)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1-1/2 tablespoons rice wine or sake
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar or Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon cornstarch

Minced Seasonings:
2 tablespoons minced scallions
1-1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1-1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
1-1/2 teaspoons hot chili paste
2 tablespoons minced scallion greens

1. Arrange the eggplant slices on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels and sprinkle on both sides with the salt. Let sit for 1 hour.

2. Preheat the broiler. Brush off the salt from the eggplant, and brush lightly with 1-1/2 tablespoons of the sesame oil on both sides. Place the eggplant about 3 inches from the heat source and broil for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden. Turn over and broil for 8 to 10 minutes longer, or until golden on both sides. Let cool slightly, then cut into finger-size pieces about 3 inches long and 1 inch wide.

3. Combine the sauce ingredients and blend well.

4. Heat a large flameproof casserole, add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil, and heat until hot. Add the Minced Seasonings and stir-fry for about 15 seconds, until fragrant.

5. Add the blended sauce to the casserole and heat until boiling. Add the eggplant fingers, cover, and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until tender.

6. Uncover, increase the heat to high, and cook until the sauce is reduced to a glaze. Transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle with the minced scallions.

Source: Adapted from China Express, by Nina Simonds

Eggplant Caponata [top]

1 eggplant, peeled and cut into medium dice
1 tablespoon plus
1 teaspoon kosher salt
12 ounces sweet Italian sausage
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small red onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
2 to 3 teaspoons rinsed, chopped capers
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 to 1 cup water
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
2 tablespoons chopped scallions

1. Sprinkle the eggplant with 1 tablespoon of the kosher salt. Place a large nonstick pan over medium heat and when it is hot, add the eggplant. Cook until the eggplant is golden brown on all sides, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the eggplant from the pan, drain on paper towels, and set it aside.

2. Reheat the pan. Add the sausage and cook over medium-high heat until golden brown and cooked through, about 7 minutes. Drain the sausage on paper towels. Discard the fat from the pan. When the sausage is cool enough to handle, roughly chop it.

3. Reheat the pan and add the oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is softened, about 2 minutes. Add the sausage, eggplant, raisins, ginger, capers, tomatoes, orange juice, curry powder, pepper flakes, honey, and 1/4 cup water, and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, stirring well after each addition. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, adding a bit more water as needed, until the eggplant is soft and the mixture is chunky and has the consistency of a sauce, about 30 minutes.

4. Remove the pan from the heat and add the vinegar, basil, cilantro, parsley, rosemary, and scallions. Serve at room temperature.

Source: Adapted from The Olives Table, by Todd English

Melanzane a Scapici (Pickled Eggplant) [top]

1 large eggplant, about 1 pound
2 cups best-quality white-wine vinegar
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil q.b.
6 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thin
Big pinch of red pepper flakes, about 1-1/4 teaspoons
Big pinch of dried oregano, about 1 tablespoon

1. Wash and dry a 6-cup glass jar or crock and keep it handy. The container you use should just hold the eggplant completely covered with oil.

2. Wash the eggplant and trim off the calyx (green stem end). With a vegetable peeler, peel the eggplant lengthwise so that it has purple stripes every inch or so.

3. Cut the eggplant into disks about 1/2 inch thick. Lightly salt the disks and put them in a colander. Weight them with a 6- to 8-pound dish for about 45 minutes, to bleed out any bitter juices. After a quick wash in cold water, pat them dry and set the slices aside until later.

4. Boil the vinegar in a shallow nonreactive skillet or saucepan and put one or two slices at a time into it for about 1 minute. Put about 2 tablespoons olive oil on the bottom of the jar or crock and a few pieces of garlic. Put two slices or so of hot eggplant on the oil and scatter on some red pepper flakes, oregano, and some more oil. Continue until you have pickled all the eggplant slices and have layered them with olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, and oregano. Cover the jar or crock and put in the refrigerator (if you have a cold wine cellar you can store it there).

5. The eggplant is ready to eat in about a week and will stay fresh and tasty in the refrigerator for about a month. As you use the eggplant, most of the oil will remain in the jar and you will have it to use for other dishes. It will be congealed, so take some out of the refrigerator and let it liquefy. You can use it to saute fish, vegetables, or even potatoes. Any bitter juices at the bottom of the jar should be discarded.

Source: Adapted from La Vera Cucina: Traditional Recipes from the Homes and Farms of Italy, by Carlo Middione

Roasted Eggplant Salad [top]

1-1/2 pounds Japanese or Italian eggplants
6 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 head garlic
1 red bell pepper
1 golden bell pepper
1/2 green bell pepper
1 large red onion
1/2 pound cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup coarsely chopped Italian parsley
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Cut eggplants in half lengthwise, then in 3/4-inch chunks. Place in a bowl and toss with 4 tablespoons oil and salt and pepper to taste; transfer to a heavy baking sheet. Roast until just tender and lightly browned, about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice with a spatula to make sure eggplant chunks aren’t sticking to the baking sheet. Transfer to a large, shallow serving bowl.

2. Meanwhile, with a small knife, cut all around the head of garlic at the “equator,” penetrating the paper skin but not the cloves.

3. Remove the papery outer layers from the top half of the head (opposite the roots), exposing the cloves. Place garlic on a large square of aluminum foil and drizzle with 2 teaspoons olive oil. Loosely wrap the foil around it, sealing edges tightly. Slip garlic into oven alongside eggplants and bake until cloves are soft, about 45 minutes.

4. Remove seeds and ribs from bell peppers. Cut peppers and onion in 1-inch pieces. In a large skillet, heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over high heat. Add bell peppers and onions, season with salt and pepper and saute until tender but not mushy, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to bowl with eggplant. Add cherry tomatoes to skillet, season with salt and pepper and saute just to heat them through, about 1 minute; do not let them lose their shape. Transfer to bowl with eggplant and add parsley.

5. Squeeze the softened garlic out of the skins into a small bowl and mash to a puree. Whisk in vinegars. Pour about three-fourths of the mixture over the vegetables and toss gently, taking care not to break up the eggplant. Taste and add more of the vinegar mixture, salt or pepper if necessary. Serve at room temperature.

Source: Adapted from Fresh from the Farmers Market, by Janet Fletcher