Eggplant: It’s a royal piece of produce that can be anything you want it to be. Want it decadent and fried? You can have that, with Italian, Thai or Chinese accents. Require it stuffed with meat? No problem. Have to have it baked, oozing with Parmigiana and juicy tomatoes? We’ve got you.
If you think you hate eggplant, perhaps you’ve just never had it prepared well. Hey, anything is possible, but remember that this nightshade was once widely considered poisonous by a whole lot of people. Best to give it just one more shot. Right this way.
Generally speaking, for the best eggplant parm, some frying must be involved. Fortunately, that tends to cut down on the time the dish requires in the oven, making this a doable dish even in the dog days of summer. Dried breadcrumbs such as panko are key to this classic’s crunch and satisfying, meaty texture. And if you have a garden full of ripe tomatoes to use instead of the canned stuff, go for it.
Some cooks (though not all) swear by salting eggplant before cooking to draw out moisture and reduce bitterness. Superstar vegetarian cuisine expert Deborah Madison is one such expert, and she recommends the technique for this rainbow-hued gratin of tomatoes, eggplant and chard. Not remotely exacting in proportions, it’s the sort of forgiving recipe that can help you use up nearly any summer produce. (But don’t skip that tasty eggplant.)
Yes, you can snack on eggplant. Of course you can! This is the recipe to make if you’re interested. Japanese eggplant tend to be very tender and rarely bitter, especially when properly grilled and drizzled with a lemony tahini sauce. This dish doesn’t lack for color and sweetness, either, thanks to a liberal handful of popping pomegranate seeds.
A pound of pork tenderloin, a fat globe eggplant, a handful of scallions, 30 minutes, and pantry staples are all you need for this weeknight superstar. Eggplant’s meatiness is, oddly enough, complemented by actual meat. Plush pork tenderloin helps showcase that same plushness in the nightshade. A classic Chinese mixture of chili-garlic sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, peanut oil and fresh ginger keep everything bright and lively. And did we mention that it’s ready in a flash?
Grilled eggplant… salad? Yes, it’s a thing, and a delicious one at that. This dish is almost a grilled twist on ratatouille. The grill itself does the heavy lifting, caramelizing fat slices of eggplant and corn in minutes. Juicy summer tomatoes do the rest of the legwork in a bright-sweet vinaigrette. Use leftovers for drizzling over fresh salad greens. It’s summer in a bite.
As is true of eggplant and pork, spicy fried eggplant and tofu are a textural match made in heaven. Garlic is one of the purple orb’s best friends. Here is makes a cameo alongside other staples of traditional Chinese cuisine: soy sauce, sesame and chiles. Thanks to tofu’s protein kick, for vegetarians, there’s almost no better way to get your eggplant on.
Doing hot dogs and burgers on the BBQ? Fine, but get some veggies in the meal, too, both for the non-meat-eaters and for everyone’s general health. These kabobs are one of the easiest ways to get produce on the table while the grill is still on, and the hands-on time is at a minimum. Zucchini and summer squash are basically yours by the basketful in hot weather if you have a neighbor with a garden. (Zucchini in particular grow abundantly, and fast!) Caramelized and sprinkled with a flurry of herbs, they’re just the thing to pair with their royal sibling.