I love eggplant now, but it took me a while to warm up to it. As an Italian-American, I grew up eating my fair share of eggplant parm, but I didn’t have much exposure to the veg beyond that. When finally faced with an opportunity to cook with it, I have to say I was stumped. It’s a bit more finicky than its simple appearance might indicate, and if you don’t know what you’re doing the results can be tragic. But if you do, the possibilities are endless.
Eggplant is technically in season during the summer, but you can usually find it at supermarkets all year long. It’s a member of the same family as zucchini, but the similarities between the two end there, and while you might be able to eat zucchini raw, you definitely shouldn’t do the same with eggplant. Its flesh is dense and rubbery, which isn’t great uncooked, but is earthy, smoky, and meaty when cooked. In fact, its meatiness makes a great meat substitute for vegetarians in terms of flavor, though you may want to pair it with a protein source since it has a relatively low amount—about a gram per cup.
These 19 recipes will guide you through some of the best ways to cook with eggplant, from classics like baba ganoush to exciting new ideas like eggplant quesadillas. Before you know it, you’ll be an eggplant master.