Want to know how to cook a delicious and healthy eggplant dish? It’s easy to do with this simple recipe. Start by chopping the eggplants into cubes, adding a little bit of olive oil and salt, and cooking them in the oven for 40 minutes at 400F.
There are dozens of ways to prepare this versatile vegetable. If you haven’t tried them before, you won’t believe how good they taste!
How to Pick the Right Eggplant
There are different types of eggplants – but you shouldn’t worry about that. More likely than not, you’ll encounter regular eggplants in the supermarket instead of the different variants such as Thai, Japanese, and the like. What will help you find the right eggplant is:
- Freshness: Fresh food first! Always try to go for fresh eggplants. It should be your first (and perhaps only) choice. Canned goods are always dipped in preservatives, and sometimes are precooked, which is not good. You can’t inspect frozen or canned produce either.
- Size: You might think you have the perfect piece of eggplant – and even better, it’s so big that one will be enough for you! Well, let’s hold your horses. Small eggplants are better than larger ones. The bigger the eggplant, the more bitter it can get.
- Skin: No marks, no blemishes, and no spots. Your eggplant should look picture-perfect. Some vegetables can take a hit and maintain quality; unfortunately, eggplant is not one of those vegetables.
- Weight: Once you have spotted the perfect eggplant (fresh, small- or medium-sized, and spot-free), you should pick it up for a final test. It needs to feel heavy in your hand and full when you squeeze it.
- 1 Eggplant
- Olive oil
Prepping the Eggplant
Now that you have the perfect, fresh eggplant, you can start the prep work necessary before cooking it.
Step 1: Wash your eggplant
Give your eggplant a good rinse to get rid of the dirt and anything else that shouldn’t be on your eggplant. You’ll peel it in a second, but it’s always best to be safe. Dry it with paper towels.
Step 2: Peel and slice your eggplant
The very first thing you want to do is chop the stem off the eggplant with a knife. Throw the stem in the trash and get ready to peel.
You can either choose your trusty vegetable peeler or the knife you just used to peel your eggplant. I prefer the vegetable peeler simply out of convenience.
Step 3: Chop your eggplant
Using that same knife from earlier, chop the eggplant into little cubes. Try to make them all nice and even – that way everything will cook at the same rate.
Step 4: Salt the eggplant cubes
Grab a bowl, and put a colander inside. Place the eggplant cubes inside the colander. Sprinkle salt on them. Let them rest for 20 to 30 minutes in order for the vegetable to absorb the salt for better flavoring.
Why do you need both a bowl and a colander? Because the eggplant will lose a little bit of its water content – and you don’t want to make a mess! If you leave the eggplant in a bowl alone, it’ll be extra difficult to dry the cubed pieces later on.
Step 5: Rinse and dry the eggplant cubes
Grab the colander and place it underwater for 30 seconds. Once that’s done, grab paper towels and put the eggplants there. Dry them gently.
Step 6: Set the eggplant cubes on a baking sheet
Grab a baking sheet and then take the eggplant cubes from the paper and put them on the sheet. Lay them out evenly and drizzle with olive oil.
Cooking the Eggplant
Once you’ve completed the prep work, you’re ready to cook the eggplant in the oven.
Step 1: Preheat the oven
Set the oven to 400F (205C ). Give it a moment to heat up. As you do, throw the paper towels and everything else into the trash – everything but the eggplant!
Step 2: Cook the eggplant
Place the baking sheet in the oven. Wait for 20 minutes and then flip the eggplant over. Wait for another 20 minutes. If the eggplant is brownish and tender, it’s ready to go!
There you have it! Now you can eat a delicious dish and feel healthy about it too, and it was as simple as buying the eggplant, cutting and seasoning it, and baking it in the oven.
How to Properly Store Eggplant
More people buy carrots or salad than eggplants. Since this vegetable isn’t as commonly used, you may be wondering what is the correct way to store it after you buy it.
It’s ideal to use eggplant as soon as you can after purchasing it, but if that’s not possible, you want to be careful about what temperature you store it at. Eggplant is sensitive to colder temperatures (such as around 40F and colder). These lower temperatures will damage the vegetable and make it go bad faster.
You can store eggplant in the fridge if your fridge is kept on the higher end of refrigeration temperatures. Otherwise, keep eggplants in a cool, dry place.
Also, be careful to keep eggplant separate from other fruits and vegetables high in ethylene (such as bananas and tomatoes) because this natural chemical causes the eggplant to ripen faster.
Store cooked eggplant the same as you would other cooked vegetables: place it in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge.
Are Eggplants Good for You?
Eggplants have nothing but net positives for you: they’re high in fiber, rich in nutrients, and low in calories. Because of their many benefits, eggplants are a staple in any healthy diet.
What Can You Do with Eggplant Skins?
While this recipe calls for peeling the eggplant, you can eat eggplant with the skin on. If you decide to cook the vegetable with the skin, buy young, smaller eggplants. They have skin that’s not so tough and more enjoyable to eat.
If you want something to do with the skins themselves, you can fry them in oil. Or, after digging out the insides, you can stuff the eggplants with various ingredients like you do with bell peppers.