Eggplant season is here so this post will help you avoid eggplant overload as the local growing season continues. Did you know that these vibrant nightshades will keep producing their deep purple colored fruits until the first frosts in mid-fall? You might need a few easy strategies to keep using eggplant in interesting recipes. These tips for freezing eggplant to use later are helpful too.
The beautiful plum color comes from the compound, anthocyanin, which is an extraordinary antioxidant that has several protective roles. Believe it or not, eggplants are actually a fruit, and there are several varieties of its kind. Check out this post on “7 Eggplant Health Benefits and Nutritional Information” to learn more about the incredible plant!
First up, let’s talk about freezing eggplants. Due to its high water content, it is best to cook/bake the eggplant prior to freezing. When cooked right, it can result in a heavenly buttery flavor and texture. Check out this post from the kitchn about the Best Way to Freeze Eggplant which includes two methods depending on what you plan to use the eggplant for.
Beyond Eggplant Parmesan
But what does one do with eggplant? Well, there is the beloved classic eggplant parm, but if you are looking for more creative ways to use eggplant, look no further– I have listed 5 ways to use eggplant, including tips on how to preserve it for a longer shelf life.
Dips, Salads, and Sandwiches
Pureed eggplant is the star of the show in the famous Greek dip, baba ganoush. Try chopping eggplant up to make a delicious salad, perfect for any family gathering during the year, or slice it up and make a flavorful vegetarian sandwich. These cold dishes are ideal for the summer months.
- Dips: I don’t know about you, but a good, hearty dip is my favorite thing to snack on. Whether with fresh cut veggies, pita chips, or spread on crackers or bread, I can’t seem to get enough of the spreadable goodness! Below are two dip recipes that use eggplant.
- Baba Ganoush
- Eggplant Dip with Yogurt and Za’atar
- Salads: For a warm, comforting, and satisfying dish that can be enjoyed anytime of the year, especially in the colder months, this Roasted Eggplant Salad with Smoked Almonds & Goat Cheese is perfect! This recipe can also easily be doubled and taken to a social gathering.
- Sandwiches: take a break from the deli sandwiches and try out this Ultimate Vegetarian Club Sandwich that is perfect in the summer months when eggplant, peppers, avocados, and cucumbers are in abundance! Get creative and swap any of the veggies for another favorite.
The tried and true method of preparing eggplant– baking. From Eggplant Parm to Ratatouille and so many more, firing up the oven is worth it for these veggies.
- Baking: Baking eggplant is a popular method, but there are a few tips to ensure the finished product is crispy and delicious! Prior to baking, salt the cut eggplant to draw out water and reduce the bitter flavor. Check out this recipe from the kitchn on Impossibly Crispy Baked Eggplant to learn more about how to get the perfectly crispy eggplant along with a tasty recipe.
- Pizza: Need some inspiration for new pizza ideas or simply want to incorporate more veggies into your diet? Then this Ratatouille Flatbread recipe is for you! This recipe is also a fantastic stepping stone to add some of your favorite veggies, aside from the tomato, zucchini, onion, and eggplant mix.
- Eggplants do not like the cold, so it is best to use these beauties up the day of or 2-3 days after purchasing and refrain from storing in the refrigerator.
- With about 7 different varieties of eggplants, some work better for specific dishes than others. Check out this post on Eggplant Varieties to get a better taste of similarities and differences between them all.
Additional Notes: As always, these are tips, suggestions, and recipes that I found and either love or want to try myself, but there are dozens of other recipes and ways to enjoy the beautiful purple nightshade. Get creative, have fun, and find the method you and your family love enjoying eggplant with!
Guest Author: Lindsay Conaway is a Nutritional Sciences/Nutrition and Dietetics Undergraduate at Penn State and intern for the Employee Wellness Team at St. Luke’s University Health Network. She enjoys cooking and baking with whole food ingredients and has a passion for learning and sharing about the numerous benefits of various foods.