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Adlen Robinson: Three ways to cook your summer eggplants
eggplant stock
Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

My two eggplant plants did not produce anything at all—one didn’t even produce any flowers. Thankfully, the gardeners and farmers at the farmer's markets are much better at growing eggplants than I am.

I love eggplant in pretty much any form. Paul never liked eggplant and when we first married, I was convinced he didn’t like it simply because he had never had it prepared properly. I set out on a mission—if anybody could convince him how delicious eggplant was, it was me. I baked it, fried it, sautéed it—you name it, I cooked it. The result? He ate it, but he still didn’t like my beloved eggplant. He said it was the texture.

I don’t cook eggplant too often, but when I do, I am always reminded how much I love this beautiful purple fruit that acts like a vegetable. Here are some of my favorite ways to enjoy eggplant.


Eggplant Parmesan

  • 2 eggplants, cut into rounds

  • 2 cups Panko breadcrumbs

  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • ½ teaspoon pepper

  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

  • 4 cups marinara, store-bought or homemade

  • 2 cups Mozzarella, shredded

  • 2/3 cup Parmesan, shredded

  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves

Sweat the eggplant rounds—this helps remove bitterness from the eggplant. Place paper towels on a rimmed baking sheet—you may need two baking sheets. Sprinkle both sides of the sliced eggplant rounds with salt and place on the paper towel-lined baking sheets. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour. Now, rinse eggplant in cold water and pat dry with clean paper towels.

Toast panko. Put panko on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in a 400-degree oven for 4 minutes. Remove and stir. Toast another 3-4 minutes until golden brown. Raise heat in the oven to 425-degrees.

In a bowl, whisk the eggs with 2 tablespoons water. In another bowl, whisk toasted panko breadcrumbs, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Dip eggplant in egg and then panko. Line the rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Bake for 25 minutes.

Spray a 9x13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Add ½ cup marinara. Place half of the baked eggplant on top. Pour 1 cup marinara on top, 1 cup shredded mozzarella, all of the parmesan, ½ of the basil (torn), remaining eggplant, remaining marinara, and mozzarella. Bake for 25 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining basil leaves (torn) and extra parmesan.

Whenever we eat at a Greek restaurant, I always always get the Baba Ganoush. You can easily make this delicious dip at home—you can easily make it at home, either by grilling the eggplant or roast it in the oven. Tahini is an important ingredient! It is toasted sesame seed paste and is now widely available at most grocery stores.


Baba Ganoush

  • 2 pounds eggplants

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

  • ¼ cup tahini

  • 1/3 cup olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons parsley

  • ¾ teaspoon salt

  • ¼ teaspoon cumin

  • Pinch of smoked paprika

Preheat oven to 450-degrees. Halve eggplants and brush with olive oil. Place on parchment paper, cut side down. Roast 45 minutes. Scoop out flesh into a colander in the sink. Shake to remove as much liquid as possible. Pour eggplant into a bowl and add garlic and lemon juice. Using a fork, combine eggplant with garlic and lemon juice. Add tahini and then drizzle in olive oil, parsley, cumin, salt, and smoked paprika. Taste for seasoning. Pour into a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Serve with pita bread, carrot sticks, and cucumber slices.


Baked Eggplant “Fries”

  • 1 eggplant

  • 1 cup fine breadcrumbs

  • ½ cup finely shredded parmesan

  • 1 egg white, whisked

  • ½ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 425-degrees. Cut eggplant into sticks resembling French fries—try to make them mostly the same size. In a bowl, combine breadcrumbs with parmesan cheese. Season eggplant “fries” with salt. Toss eggplant with egg whites then toss with breadcrumbs and parmesan. Line a rimmed baking sheet (or two) with parchment paper and spray with non-stick cooking oil. Place eggplant “fries” on prepared parchment paper and then spray them with non-stick cooking spray. Roast, flipping every 5 minutes for about 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Serve with dipping sauce.

 

Dipping Sauce

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt

  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder

  • ½ teaspoon dried parsley

  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme

  • ½ teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients.