Eggplant is a culinary chameleon. Its natural sponginess absorbs everything from seasonings to sauces, making it taste however you want. It can even break down and turn itself into a sauce. (Baba ghanoush, anyone?)
But despite all of eggplant’s positive characteristics, there are plenty of naysayers. If eggplant isn’t your thing, you’re not alone.
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We'll admit that eggplant can be tricky to cook. It doesn’t lend itself to some common preparation methods like boiling or grating. For this reason, we do things a little differently, like microwaving eggplant for better browning and braising it for silky texture.
If you’re on the fence about eggplant, we have nine ways to cook it that showcase its best attributes. Don’t take our word for it though—hear straight from some of our digital subscribers who left recipe comments about the mind-changing powers of these dishes.
1. Braised Eggplant with Pomegranate and Tahini
Cook’s Illustrated test cook Steve Dunn demonstrates how slim eggplant varieties won’t break down during a long braise but instead turn silky.
Featured comment: “Turned my kids into eggplant lovers!” —Walter R.
Braised Eggplant with Pomegranate and TahiniFor most types of produce, a few basic cooking methods immediately spring to mind. Eggplant? Not so much.
2. Vegetable Lasagna
Microwaving eggplant quickly pulls out its extra water so that it can take on all that lovely no-cook tomato sauce.
Featured comment: “I have made this lasagna for years!! It is a holiday favorite as well as an anytime or ‘for company’ dish. Even people who think they don’t like eggplant love it.” — Suzanne P.
Vegetable LasagnaEver made a vegetable lasagna that wasn't laden with watery vegetables and dry, grainy patches of cheese? Neither had we.
3. Ciambotta (Italian Vegetable Stew)
This deeply satisfying dish uses eggplant’s natural tendency to fall apart to make a full-bodied stew base.
Featured comment: “I shamelessly entered this into a friends' chili contest as a vegetarian chili contest and won. My family, not always fans of eggplant or zucchini, love this dish with crusty bread.” — Cynthia M.
Ciambotta (Italian Vegetable Stew)Like its French sibling, ciambotta starts out with a slew of watery vegetables. But the right steps create a stew that’s hearty, more concentrated, and deeply satisfying.
4. Eggplant Parmesan
Eggplant Parmesan you don’t have to fry? Give this recipe a try.
Featured comment: “This was a hit! I am not an eggplant fan, but my mom loves it. So, for her, I made this to celebrate mother's day. I think I had only cooked eggplant once before, and it was horrible. But, this recipe is perfect. I made it exactly and I was astounded at how much I actually liked it.” — Tammy M.
Eggplant ParmesanTraditional recipes fry breaded eggplant in copious amounts of oil. Could we eliminate the frying, streamline the dish, and make it taste better than the original?
5. Eggplant Parmesan For Two
This rustic take uses the entire vegetable to make eggplant steaks (!) and a velvety sauce. Then, toss it in a hot oven for a textural ride.
Featured comment: “Great recipe and have made it many times. Really the only way I like eggplant.” — Tracy M.
Eggplant Parmesan For TwoA wholesale redesign was the first step to reimagining this dish for two.
6. Eggplant Involtini
Cook’s Illustrated Test Cook Andrea Geary developed a lighter, fuss-free version of this eye-catching casserole for you to try on your guests.
Featured comment: “I am not a fan of eggplant but absolutely loved this dish.” — P. P.
Eggplant InvoltiniThe classic approach to these cheese-filled eggplant rolls—breading and frying—is tedious, and it obscures the signature ingredient. We ditched both steps for a lighter, less fussy dish.
7. Chinese-Style Beef and Eggplant
Eggplant finds its way into many Chinese and American Chinese dishes. Here’s how to stir fry it with an ultraflavorful sauce.
Featured comment: “This was so delicious and easy! My family does not like eggplant, but they love Chinese food and they devoured this.” — Elena Y.
Chinese-Style Beef and EggplantTossing eggplant with soy sauce after a thorough sauté seasons the vegetable without imparting any bitter flavor.
8. Eggplant Pecorino
Cook’s Country Editorial Director Bryan Roof expertly shows how to prep and fry the eggplant for this delicious, small town Ohio restaurant’s take on a classic.
Featured comment: “I made this today—sauce in the am—it was excellent as reviewed by all—even a eggplant hater loved it. I think that is because it was sliced and stacked so thinly? Anyway, great recipe, followed it to the letter.” — Helen S.
Eggplant PecorinoAn updated take on eggplant Parmesan puts the focus back where it belongs.
9. Walkaway Ratatouille
For subscriber Sheila H., this ratatouille is about the texture. “I heard of ratatouille. I don’t think I ever ate it. Now that I made it, I know I never had it, because I never experienced these flavors and textures before! Truly delicious! . . . Eggplant was always a problem for me, I never liked the texture and could never figure out how to cook it. This recipe solves that problem and doesn’t sacrifice the taste!”