Everything You Need to Know About Cooking with Eggplants
Eggplants are one of our favorite veggies to use year-round: They're delicious when grilled and kabob'd in the summer, and equally tasty in the winter when roasted to tender, buttery perfection. In fact, the aubergine is so versatile that chef and author Raquel Pelzel wrote an entire cookbook dedicated to the plump nightshade.
Eggplant ($14; shortstackeditions.com) is the 22nd volume in a series of small-format cookbooks called Short Stack, and includes recipes for dips, sandwiches, sides, and more. But one of our favorite sections is Pelzel's approachable list of how-to's for working with the veggie—read on below for the excerpt, and then pick up a copy for yourself!
How to Broil a Whole Eggplant
"Adjust a rack to within a few inches of the broiler and heat the broiler to high. Prick the eggplant 4 times with a fork, then place it on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil until the skin is charred, about 8 minutes," writes Pelzel. "Use tongs to turn the eggplant over and char the other side, about 8 minutes more. Continue to turn and char the eggplant until a paring knife easily slips into the center (about 20 to 25 minutes). Remove from the broiler, make an X in the bottom of the eggplant, then lay it upright(ish) in a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl to strain the liquid. Once the eggplant is cool, slice off the stem end, make a slit from top to bottom, open the eggplant and scoop out the tender flesh."
How to Grill a Whole Eggplant
"Heat a charcoal or gas grill to medium-high heat. Follow the method for broiling eggplant above, moving the eggplant to a cooler part of the grill if it gets too charred before it's completely tender," writes Pelzel.
How to Roast a Whole Eggplant
"This is a great technique for anytime you want the creaminess of roasted eggplant without the intensely smoky taste you get from grilling or broiling," writes Pelzel. "Preheat the oven to 375°. Prick the eggplant 4 times on one side with a fork, then place it on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Roast the eggplant until it completely collapses and a pairing knife easily slips into the center, 40 to 50 minutes. Remove the eggplant from the oven. Make an X in the bottom of the roasted eggplant, then lay the eggplant upright(ish) in a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl to strain the liquid. Once the eggplant is cool, slice off the stem end, make a slit from top to bottom, open the eggplant and scoop out the tender flesh."