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Cooking Eggplant: What Mistakes to Avoid

Cooking Eggplant: What Mistakes to Avoid Eggplant purple from market

Autumn is definitely the best season for cooking eggplant because you can find it anywhere, in all shapes and sizes. But why limit your enjoyment of this veggie for that time of year? You can find it in supermarkets all year and you can take advantage of so many nutrients, like B1, B3, B6, and K vitamins, fiber, and potassium. This veggie is also excellent because it’s extremely versatile and the options for cooking it are many. 

I was never that much into eating cooked veggies; I preferred them fresh any day of the week. To me, cooked veggies seemed like they lost their beautiful texture and fresh flavor and somehow turned to mush. This was all until recently, when I became more “adventurous” with what I ate, adventurous as opposed to my previous diet. Cooking eggplant was one of my priorities, but I did not get it right. At first.

Of course, as with any food, it’s good to do a little research before cooking eggplant, because believe us, you want to accentuate its flavors as much as possible. There are some mistakes you could make, and you could end up with a bitter eggplant dish. Like I did.

Cooking Eggplant: What Mistakes to Avoid

When in a dipping mood, please try to make some delicious baba ganoush spread.

The benefits of eating cooked eggplant

And that would be a shame, because not only can eggplant be tasty and with an amazing texture, but it’s also pretty healthy eating in my or anyone else’s book. One cup of cubed and cooked eggplant only has 35 calories, but it’s rich in fiber, minerals like copper, manganese, and potassium, but also B1, B3, B6, and K vitamins.

It also contains phytonutrients with antioxidant activity. Thanks to them, eating eggplant helps protect brain cell membranes. It also lowers the risk of heart disease because those antioxidants keep your bad cholesterol levels low.

If you cook the eggplant right, it’s creamy and earthy and makes one hell of a dip or puree. It’s also excellent in roasted and grilled dishes.

How to avoid mistakes when cooking eggplant

1. By choosing the right one

It’s always tempting to go for the bigger, glossier eggplants in the market for purely aesthetic reasons. These are good for making eggplant parmigiana or baba ghanoush. But there are sweeter varieties like the chubbier Thai one or the slender Japanese one. These are better for stir-fries. So, think of a dish and then pick the eggplant variety accordingly.

Also, you need a ripe eggplant to be able to take full advantage of the flavor! How do you know if it’s ripe? Check out the skin. If it’s firm and shiny, then it’s good for cooking. If it’s a bit squishy, then look for another one!

Eggplants should feel heavy in your hand when you pick it up and it should also have a shiny skin and a green stem.

Cooking Eggplant: What Mistakes to Avoid

When you buy eggplants, make sure they feel heavy and that their skins are shiny.

2. Be careful when using fat or oil to cook it

Eggplant has a spongy texture, which means it’s prone to absorbing oils and fats, so it could end up soggy in the end, with a very oily taste. That’s what I went through multiple times until I found out what the solutions are! You can coat the eggplant pieces with eggs and breadcrumbs to form a barrier between the oil and the veggie. Or treat them with salt to remove some of the moisture. You could also coat them with oil and broil them until they’re brown and crispy.

Don’t cook it in too much fat, because you could have a greasy and disgusting dish on your hands.

But that doesn’t mean you should be afraid of using oil or fat to cook your eggplant. Because it soaks up the fat, it needs a bit more oil to be cooked on the surface. Just follow the instructions in the recipe and you should be fine.

Cooking Eggplant: What Mistakes to Avoid

Eggplants have a spongy texture, so be careful when you cook them with fat.

3. Don’t overpower it with the other ingredients

When you’re cooking with eggplant and cheeses or sauces, it’s essential not to drown your star veggie in the other ingredients, because eggplant has a very nice flavor. And the goal here is to enhance it, not obscure it. What good would it do to get just another dish that tastes like melted cheese, sauce, and not much else?

Use seasoning, condiments, and other ingredients to enhance its flavor. Eggplant goes well with soy sauce, tahini sauce, lentils, pine nuts, cumin, tomatoes, chickpeas, ginger, or garlic. The goal here is to experiment, and there are a lot of recipes out there with great ideas. Here are some.

Cooking Eggplant: What Mistakes to Avoid

When you cook eggplants with cheese sauces, make sure not to lose the veggie's flavor.

4. Know when to remove the skin

If you have a huge eggplant, it could be older and have a tougher skin. In this case, it’s a good idea to peel it. Smaller, younger eggplants have tender skins which means you can keep them on for more texture and flavor in your dish.

To make the most out of your eggplant, use it in a hearty casserole!

I’m a pop culture nerd who thinks too much about fried bacon, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and life, the Universe and everything. I love food and sometimes you can see that on my hips, but I don't care that much about that.
What I do care more about is trying to eat healthier, even though I admit that I like to indulge in my food fantasies. I’m addicted to puns, so forgive me for that when you read my articles. I now know too much about nutrition to be fun to hang out with. So long and thanks for all the fish-based omega-3 fatty acids.

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