Too Many Cooks: The Great Eggplant Debate

September 13, 2013

You'll be hearing from the staff at Food52 every week in Too Many Cooks, our group column in which we pool our answers to questions about food, cooking, life, and more.

Eggplant on Food52

This week, we made a polarizing and sort-of-scary suggestion: we told you to microwave your eggplant. We're not sorry, because it's delicious, but it definitely got people talking. Because eggplant is so divisive, and because a it's a much-maligned vegetable, and because eggplant season is slipping away too quickly, this week we want to know:

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What's your favorite eggplant cooking strategy? 

We want to hear your favorite dishes, too -- tell us in the comments!

Baba Ganoush on Food52

Marian: David Lebovitz's Baba Ganoush is my new official favorite preparation -- mostly because I get to burn things intentionally on the stovetop.

Hannah: +100 on Baba Ganoush!

LaurenRoasted Eggplant with Basil thanks to Martha Stewart. 5 simple ingredients and oh-so-delicious. 

Brette: Lauren converted me -- that's my new favorite way too! I also like it a la Ottolenghi when I'm feeling fancy. Also eggplant parmesan.

Kenzi: I'm very, very happy to say that I'm an official eggplant convert! David Lebovitz's baba ganoush that Marian made helped me get there. I like to roast the hell out of it, or char it. I also really want to try cooking it in coals, a la Canal House. And I second Brette -- the eggplant a la Ottolenghi is killer.

Christina: Charred on the grill with lots of olive oil and La Boite's Breeze spice blend sprinkled liberally.

Michael: My favorite ways to cook an eggplant are: (1) whole, over an open flame, until the skin is fully charred and the inside is a creamy, smoky pudding, and (2) sliced or chopped and shallow fried, as in this recipe. Cubed and long-simmered with lamb, chickpeas, and spices ain't bad either.

Amelia: This. I've been doing a lot of stress-cooking lately (apartment hunting is exhausting!) and this is pretty much the best comfort food.

Gayle: 1. Burn until it collapses, then mix with olive oil and chopped tomatoes. 2. Nasu dengaku.

Eggplant Parmesan from Food52

Merrill: I'm not a huge eggplant fan (sshhh, don't tell!), but I agree that the eggplant parmesan is truly wonderful.

Gabriella: I second Merrill...eggplant definitely isn't my favorite vegetable. (I've always enjoyed this sentiment from Love in the Time of Cholera: “Very well, I will marry you if you promise not to make me eat eggplant.”) That said, anything tastes good when you pickle it.

Amanda: I like how Patricia Wells steams it.

How to Prep Eggplant on Food52


More: Master eggplant prep with our step-by-step guide.

Bea: I grew up on eating Japanese eggplant and love it! One of my favorite eggplant recipes is hot and spicy mapo eggplant. It's a variation of the famous mapo tofu which uses Sichuan peppercorns and chilis for a numbing heat. It's pretty simple to prepare: sauté the eggplant in oil, then add a mixture of hot soy sauce, chili peppers, Sichuan peppercorn, and black bean sauce to the pan and sauté until it thickens. This dish goes so well with a bowl of jasmine rice to cut the heat and soak up the delicious sauce. 

Jen: In a similar vein, my sister makes amazing (if tragically named) Sichuan Fish-Fragrant Eggplant and serves it over steamed white rice with a fried egg. It's spicy and complex and comforting and what I want for dinner tonight.

Maddy: Baba ganoush is hard to beat, but I also can't resist this recipe from ICE for eggplant fritters with feta that get dunked in yogurt sauce.

Genius Microwaved Eggplant on Food52


Tell us: How do you like your eggplant?

Baba Ganoush photo by Jodi Moreno. Eggplant Parmesan photo by Karen Mordechai. All other photos by James Ransom.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Baldomero Ruiz
    Baldomero Ruiz
  • abatjour
  • Liz
  • aargersi
  • DUZE @BakingBackwards
    DUZE @BakingBackwards
Jen M.

Written by: Jen M.


Baldomero R. October 20, 2013
Have you ever taste "Escalivada"?. Here is the recipe.
Ingredients for 4 people: 4 large egg-plants, 8 red peppers, 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic, 1 dl of extra virgin olive oil Salt
Flame grill the eggplants and peppers or roast them in the oven. Peel and remove the stems of the eggplants. Peel and seed the peppers. Cut the vegetables into strips.


Sprinkle with finely chopped garlic and dress with extra virgin olive oil and salt before serving.
abatjour September 21, 2013
years ago, i lived in an upper flat too wonderful to describe herein. so on to eggplant: the lovely, old armenian lady in the upper flat next door often waved to me as i was tending to my plants on the shelves in the bay window over the window seat.... one evening,she sent over a plate of eggplant. hot, lemony, creamy and salty and peppery and, well, divine. i visited her soon to return the plate and asked how she had made them: "dip in flour with salt and pepper (paypper she pronounced) and then egg and fry in olive oil. serve with lemon (laymone). oh boy. oh boy - comfort 40 years since.
Liz September 17, 2013
Had in Turkey this week: puree of eggplant as a base for: a light and spicy stew of small pieces of beef, tomato, onions. A nice replacement rice or pasta. Would also work well under, say, grilled salmon with salsa?
aargersi September 16, 2013
MonkeyMom's crisscross eggplant - to die for:

and I did this last week and at it all myself in one sitting:

and I am on team eggplant parmesan with all my heart as well
DUZE @. September 15, 2013
Mine is a la India! Spicy sweet and smokey banana bharta any day and everyday day and I'm happy!
DUZE @. September 15, 2013
Not banana, bajan! Damn auto correct!
boulangere September 15, 2013
I would swear eggplant was invented especially for caponata.
Rhonda35 September 15, 2013
I'm an eggplant lover, but my menfolk are not so I don't eat it as often as I like. My current favorite way to cook it is this way: (Sorry, I don't know how to make a hyperlink.) So delicious. Sometimes I can sneak in some eggplant parmesan by slicing the eggplant super-thin and telling the guys it is veal parmesan! The one eggplant dish that is not a favorite, funnily enough, is baba ganoush.
Kukla September 15, 2013
Check also out my vegetarien Eggplant-Chickpea Patties:
fhp September 15, 2013
Kukla! You always have such delicious ideas. Brava!
Kukla September 15, 2013
Thank you fhp!
RobinD September 15, 2013
Eggplant Caponata!
Jen M. September 15, 2013
I had this exact recipe last night--so good!
RobinD September 16, 2013
It's the best one I've found!! They got the sweet and sour perfected in it!
Mariam September 15, 2013
My favorite eggplant dip appetizer:
Saute a large thinly sliced onion along with a few sliced garlic cloves in olive oil, until they soften and turn a light golden color. Add cubed eggplant pieces, season with salt, and continue to gently saute until all the eggplant pieces are coated in olive oil. Turn the heat down, cover, and gently cook until the eggplant has softened and the entire mixture is a beautiful caramel-brown color. Stir occasionally and be sure the eggplant has released just enough liquid to avoid burning. If needed, add a few tablespoons of water. Season as needed.
-Stir in toasted walnuts or pine nuts.
-Top with a dollop of sour cream and fried dried mint flakes. (Inspired by a Persian version I grew up with...)
-Top with cooked chickpeas (not from a can) and crushed red pepper flakes.
Serve with fresh homemade focaccia or toasted pita bread.
Kukla September 14, 2013
I like to make a Baba Ganoush variation where smoky eggplant is mixed with a small amount of creamy mayonnaise: or an Asian stile Eggplant salad:
deanna1001 September 14, 2013
Caponata from the eating healthy in the NYT:
Also, I have a big barbeque book and there is a great begetarian entree - slice the large eggplants the long way 1/8" thick. Briefly dunk in boiling water just until pliable. Lay a slice with another t right angles forming a cross. Add to the center (where it is two layers) a slice of tomato, one of mozzarella and a couple of basil leaves, then fold in the ends making a nice parcel. Brush with oil and grill until nicely browned and the cheese melts. Make a sauce with oil, lemon and pine puts or whatever...really great.
Pat September 14, 2013
Slice Japanese eggplant lengthwise and either grill or broil slices. When tender, but still hot, slather each side with a mixture of hoisin sauce, soy sauce and toasted sesame oil. Eat at room temp either plain or topped with minced scallions and toasted sesame seeds.
aobenour September 14, 2013
I too enjoy eggplant parmesan - baked on preheated and oiled baking sheets instead of fried - and mapo and Sichuan eggplant. I also like to make Julia's pistouille - pg. 351 of Mastering the Art Vol. II - and Madhur Jaffrey's fried eggplants - pg. 160 of Invitation - with the green or red chutney.
Sophia W. September 14, 2013
The eggplant recipe with feta, jalapenos, onions, and lemon segments from Jerusalem is incredible and such an easy thing to make (including in large quantities)!
Jen M. September 15, 2013
Yeah, around here we all fangirl pretty hard over anything Ottolenghi + eggplant...
cucina D. September 14, 2013
I was raised eating eggplant in a wide variety of preparations. Our winter meals were filled with eggplant parmigiana (the traditional recipe, not the breadcrumb laden variety), stuffed eggplant and baked pasta dishes with roasted eggplant. Summer meals were my favorite when we would grill eggplant and add them to lighter pasta dishes as well as serve them as sides to grilled meats and fish. The end of summer showcased the pickling of all the remaining eggplant harvest, putting them in our cantinas for the winter. These were used in sandwiches and antipasto dishes but I learned to eat and love them as a simple snack right out of the can.
emg September 14, 2013
I peel an eggplant and microwave it in a covered casserole till done. Cool and pop into a zip lock bag. Place in freezer for wonderful winter baba ganoush using your favorite recipe or any other recipe using pre cooked eggplant. I have done this for years when eggplant is plentiful at my farmers market and it works beautifully.
Fairmount_market September 14, 2013
I just tried Fuchsia Dunlop's Smoky Eggplant with Garlic from Every Grain of Rice. Very tasty.
walkie74 September 14, 2013
Coated with flour and egg and baked in the oven or fried, then served for breakfast with scrambled eggs. Mmmm!
fhp September 13, 2013
Eggplant Involtini with ricotta and parmigiano and basil filling (w. a hint of nutmeg).
Bake in a simple tomato sauce. Lighter than parmigiano but every bit as good and elegant as well.