Eggplant

How to Turn 7 Eggplants Into a Week of Meals

by:
September  6, 2018

It's that time of year: They're everywhere. Eggplants.

If there's one vegetable I always have lying around, it's the moonless, Stygian nightshade vegetable. I'm even holding it in my official Food52 team photo. See?

Beyond seeing them everywhere, I'm a huge fan of cooking them and eating them, as well. Though, I'll admit, I didn't always love them.

Photo by James Ransom

But once I learned that you could roast them in the oven and stew them with tomatoes until meltingly tender—once I realized they don't have to be oil-logged or spongily undercooked—I've been making excuses to cook them over and over, every which way. Such versatility! I can't get enough of their smoky-sweet flesh, the way they add a duvet of savory comfort to anything they're in. I eat them by the armful. (Er...crateful? Bushelful? Whatever eggplants get shipped in.) I love them so much now that I strongly believe one could live off of the stuff for an entire week straight. In fact, I probably go through at least seven eggplants a week.

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It may sound like too much eggplant, but because the vegetable is such a blank canvas for all kinds of flavors, it's sort of a Transformer of the nightshade world, its potential bedazzled with myriad forms and functions, all of which are way more than meets the eye. Anyway, I'm here to teach you how to stop seeing all those eggplants at the market and how to start seeing dinner.

A quick note on varieties: The skinny Japanese ones like those pictured above are lovely, but I tend to go for the large FAT ones (if you're like me: always looking for more bang for your buck). At the end of the day what matters here is the weight of your eggplant haul.


So Here's the Plan

  • Buy seven medium-sized eggplants at the store. For those who suck at math like me, that's usually about a pound per regular ol' Italian eggplant, i.e. 7 pounds total. If you're buying the skinnier Japanese variety or even the adorable pixie ones of farmers market fame as of late, then you'll need a few more to get to 7 pounds.
  • Make these recipes, eat like royalty. You'll have an extravagant (and varied!) eggplant feast all week long.

Eggplant #1

Roast your first eggplant for this simple, straightforward sheet pan salad, the perfect side dish to round out any main course. Lately, I've been adding a pinch of cumin before roasting—makes it taste even smokier and more baba ghanoush–like. Speaking of baba ghanoush: Sometimes when I don't feel like chewing (it happens), I'll blitz this up with Greek yogurt and eat the dip with a spoon. Divine.

Eggplant #2

Remember that salad? If you haven't turned it into a dip yet (even if you have!), the main course to go with could be this cheesy shortcut eggplant Parmesan by our recipe developer and BLR columnist Emma Laperruque. It's the kind of dinner you can really make yourself at the end of a long workday. For this you'll only need five ingredients (including the one eggplant).

Eggplant #3

Have one in a sandwich for lunch this week, slathered with yogurt and filled to the brim with a Middle Eastern medley of vegetables. The pita bread and hard-boiled eggs help take that single eggplant so much further, making it so that you could have one of these for breakfast, too, if you wanted. You'll get four individual meals out of this recipe.

Eggplants #4 & #5

I don't think I could survive without pasta in my pantry. It's cheap! It's fast! It's yummy! The spicy eggplant sauce in Gena Hamshaw's recipe (which only calls for two eggplants) is enough to coat a whole pound of linguine—that's a lot of pasta. Feed an army, eat for days, and pack it for lunch; it reheats well.

Eggplants #6 & #7

Chop up a couple pounds of eggplants for this rich, comforting fall stew. "Make bademjan, as this stew is called in Farsi, on a lazy day," Louisa Shafia writes, "when you have time to caramelize the onions until they’re dark and sweet, then cook the stew and let it rest for a while on the stove before eating to let the flavors develop." Though eggplant carries this dish, the true star is the pomegranate molasses, which adds a sweet-tart depth.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“I love eggplant every which way, and would happily go for this plan. My husband might leave in protest though...not a big fan. But I have gotten him to eat it baked with a breadcrumb crust, baked with a cornmeal crust, turned into a burger, grilled in my panini press with lots of spices, or in baba ghanoush as long as there’s lots of tahini. So during eggplant season I rotate through those choices...”
— Ali
Comment

Are you crazy about eggplant, too? Tell us your favorite way to prepare it in the comments below.


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7 Comments

MizF October 16, 2018
It would be helpful to package this as a week cook-ahead plan, as in how to roast all your eggplants at once and adapt the ingredients for the rest of the recipes. Not everyone is home enough to cook every day!
 
Ali September 12, 2018
I love eggplant every which way, and would happily go for this plan. My husband might leave in protest though...not a big fan. But I have gotten him to eat it baked with a breadcrumb crust, baked with a cornmeal crust, turned into a burger, grilled in my panini press with lots of spices, or in baba ghanoush as long as there’s lots of tahini. So during eggplant season I rotate through those choices...
 
Author Comment
Eric K. September 12, 2018
Maybe he'll like the Persian stew w/ pomegranate molasses? You can hardly tell it's eggplant, it's so amalgamated. Pure comfort food, tbh.
 
Nancy September 7, 2018
All sound good, and like Judy I plan to work through them.<br />Five and spice's sandwich reminds me of sabich (Persian-Israeli buffet that turns into a sandwich, includes eggplant, amba, egg, chopped salad, hot sauce, tahini).<br />There's also caponata (Sicily etc), baigan bharta (Punjab), harira (Morocco - vegetarian versions).
 
Author Comment
Eric K. September 9, 2018
Delicious, Nancy. Always full of great ideas. I've never had baigan bharta or harira myself. Will try them out someday.
 
judy September 7, 2018
I adore eggplant. It is a nightshade vegetable, along with tomatoes. I have fibromyalgia. Decades ago it was recommended that I give up nightshade vegetables and my fibro would go away. Well, I managed to for about 4-5 months. No change in my fibro. And how does one give up their FAVORITE VEGETABLES?!! Is I have now ignored that advice since the 1990s, though it cycles through the fibro annals regularly. I will work my way through every one of these recipes. My favorite quick way though is to slice about 1/2 inch thick, bushes some good olive oil across them and sprinkle salt and pepper on them. Maybe a few grains of whatever seasoning supports dinner that night :Indian, Thai or Italian. Place them on cookie sheets and roast until soft and a little crunchy. Amazing appetizer. Of course, along with zucchini there is ratatouille, another favorite that I have every year at this time. Thanks for some new ideas.
 
Author Comment
Eric K. September 9, 2018
Thai eggplant sounds great. How would you prepare that?<br /><br />I'm sorry about your fibromyalgia. I'm deathly allergic to raw apples. The compromise for me is to cook them, but those two things are really not the same.