Well, there are probably a hundred different ways to cook and prepare eggplant whether it be for a main dish, a side dish, or an appetizer. One thing is for sure, eggplant is very versatile and accompanies many different flavors and styles of cooking incredibly well.
First of all, you must learn about the different types of eggplants. In addition to the common globe eggplant, there are thinner Italian, Chinese, Japanese and Indian eggplants. You should only really ever salt large eggplants. Globe eggplants can be bitter sometimes, so these are usually sliced into rounds, sprinkled with salt, and left to sit in a colander for 20 to 30 minutes so the bitter juices can easily be drained out. Once this is finished, you may cut and cook to your liking. The smaller varieties of eggplant typically don't need to be salted.
Eggplants can be fried lightly in olive oil, but be careful... Eggplants are like a sponge and will soak up any and all oil used in the pan so be sure to stay light on the oil when frying. You may grill eggplants on a medium heat, releasing a great full flavor and smell.
These are just some simple techniques on how to cook eggplant. Below is a recipe I cook in my restaurant that is a huge crowd favorite. Enjoy!
Eggplant and Chick Pea Sauté
No doubt, this is and always was one of my favorite dishes for our vegetarian clients. Everyone enjoys it. Yes, you need to chop a few things but wait until you see what awaits you at the end. No way will you miss meat. This is perfect for any reason in any season.
- 4-5 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
- One large fresh eggplant cut in cubes
- 4-5 large cloves of garlic chopped
- 2 cups of chopped white onion (one large onion)
- 4 cups of readymade tomato sauce or Marinara
- 4 cups of cooked and drained chickpeas
- 8 pinches each of cumin, coriander, cinnamon
- 2 pinches each of kosher sea salt and black pepper
- Heat extra virgin olive oil in sauté pan.
- Add eggplant and cook until tender for 5 minutes on high.
- Add garlic and onion; stir and mix well 3 minutes.
- Add tomato sauce, reduce temperature to medium.
- Add chickpeas, stir well.
- Add spices, salt and pepper, and stir again.
- Cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes, stirring well every 3-5 minutes.
Note: May serve with couscous, rice pilaf or vegetable orzo pilaf or as a main dish with caramelized onions. Enjoy this heart healthy dish. To avoid sticking, serve hot.