If youíre new to plant-based dining or simply love unusual eggplant recipes, this articleís for you. From spicy Caribbean party spreads to an aubergine dessert from the Amalfi Coast, Iíve found 40 fab dishes to please the palette.
1. Spicy Caribbean Spread
This Caribbean eggplant spread is spicy, colorful and spreads easily onto toasted bread rounds. Itís easily modified to be fat free by leaving out the olive oil, which doesnít really make that much of a difference in the flavor due to the jerk seasoning paste having such a strong flavor influence.
2. Oven-Roasted Rounds
These roasted rounds make great fare for dinner parties where you need an eggplant recipe thatís easily broken apart into individual servings. The stacks look stylish next to mixed greens with a couple of homemade bread sticks and a side of sauce.
3. Chinese-Sauced Appetizers Balls
If youíre looking for a fun and unexpected preliminary snack at your next get together, consider these hoisin eggplant balls. You can serve them with toothpicks or on small plates with scoops of Jasmine rice.
4. Toasted Eggplant Subs
One of my favorite hot meatless sandwiches to enjoy is toasted eggplant subs. You can use cheese if you want, or simply go with the eggplant cutlets and seasoned marinara sauce. I have to admit to cheating and using the breaded eggplant cutlets from places like Costco and Samís Club, but you could certainly make them from scratch if youíre so inclined.
5. Baba Ghanoush
Another fun way to enjoy roasted eggplant is by preparing a batch of traditional baba ghanoush. Itís light, pairs well with torn toasted pita bread and makes a fantastic appetizer for a themed dinner party. You can also kick it up a notch by adding one of my favorite vegan secret weapons, liquid smoke. The result is a freshly-grilled flavor without having to actually fire up the barbecue.
6. Eggplant and Ground Lamb Casserole
If you are in the process of learning how to economize with meat by pairing it with other ingredients in casseroles and sauces, then you may want to try this savory, international ground lamb and eggplant casserole made with a rice base. There was a similar version I got turned on to making when I lived in Kuwait. The result is a satisfying meal thatís full of flavor but lighter on cost and calories than if you used lamb exclusively.
7. Grilled Eggplant
Just like zucchini and pineapple can be tossed on the barbecue, grilling eggplant is a tasty way to enjoy this purple produce item. It makes a great side dish or a slamming low-calorie addition to an antipasto plate.
8. Low Ė Carb Lasagna
If you love the heartiness of eggplant and are trying to find a satisfying lasagna recipe without the carb overload of pasta, this noodle-free lasagna from Rachel Ray made with eggplant slices might be just the place for you to start. Try pairing it with a casual table wine and a side of arugula with your favorite balsamic vinaigrette recipe.
9. Stuffed Eggplant
There are several ways you can go here. Actually, there are a ton of ways you can attempt stuffed eggplant, but Iíve narrowed it down to three healthy versions for you to try at home. This stuffed eggplant recipe from the Mayo Clinic uses mushrooms, chicken breast and bread crumbs along with other goodies, resulting in a sturdy entrťe that takes eggplant center stage. Veggie Belly boasts this vegan eggplant rollatini stuffed with couscous and pine nuts that will have plant-based diet skeptics doing a double take. Finally, the folks at Vegetarian Times magazine offer up a walnut-stuffed eggplant thatís both hearty and heaped with protein. Itís a bit labor intensive, but worth it for a special occasion.
10. Prepared Preserves
Apparently, eggplant preserves can be prepared as a sweet condiment to be enjoyed with scones and other baked goods. Who knew? I think these would be an interesting addition to a holiday gift basket, since most people usually go with fudge sauce and homemade jams. Including an eggplant item will ensure that your hostess gifts stand out next season.
11. Eggplant Pizza
To be honest, Iíd never even seen eggplant pizza before I lived in Italy. Sure enough though, itís a popular pizza topping in certain parts of the country. If youíre feeling adventurous, you can try whipping up your own dough mix and incorporating your pizza sauce of choice to create a gourmet pizza suitable for guests or date night. (See also: Vegan Eggplant Rosemary Pizza Recipe)
Caponata, or eggplant relish, can be enjoyed as a condiment for polenta or as a fun dunk and dip option for homemade bread sticks. Personally, I like the rip and dunk option because it can be served chilled that way, providing a make-ahead option for a hot summer day when all you want is a chilled dipping sauce, a white wine spritzers and a green salad.
This is about as Mediterranean as it gets. Whether youíre planning a Greek menu or want something meatless to serve when you have a vegetarian coming for dinner, moussaka is one of those eggplant recipes you can turn to when you want something that will ďstick to the ribs,Ē so to speak. This recipe for vegan moussaka is lower in fat grams because of its avoidance of eggs and dairy.
14. Eggplant Fritters
Thereís no doubt about it. Fritters are practically synonymous with finger food. This version from Martha Stewart uses bread crumbs, Parmesan coriander and other tasty ingredients to create a savory snack for your next casual gathering.
15. Tempura Fans
I have to admit. Eggplant isnít usually the first piece of produce that comes to mind when I think about tempura. But this eggplant tempura from Food and Wine has me rethinking that position. The fact that they are shaped like miniature fans is just icing on the proverbial cake.
16. Grilled Salad
Well, salad is certainly appropriate as a side dish any time you bust out the barbecue. This grilled eggplant salad from the New York Times is served on toasted pita bread, which is perfect for a light dinner on a warm evening.
17. Savory Eggplant Pie
Iíve always been a fan of making dinner pies as an affordable yet stylish supper option. This Turkish eggplant pie from Vegetarian Times magazine demonstrates that you can still incorporate this menu strategy while going meatless.
18. Sweet Eggplant Pie
If you thought the last idea was unusual, this sweet eggplant pie is even more so. It uses eggplant marmalade along with dessert spices and ricotta cheese to create a delectable Italian dessert. (See also: Homemade Bulk Pie Crust Recipe)
19. Eggplant Cake
Say what? In my what? Thatís right. Just as carrots and zucchini can be incorporated into baked goods for moisture, so too can eggplants. This eggplant cake recipe from Cake Whiz shows you how.
20. Baked with Chocolate
The dessert fun continues along the Amalfi Coast with this baked chocolate and eggplant dessert. It has the appearance of a rustic tart, with the edges of the eggplant ďpastryĒ folded over on the top. Seriously, this is one of the more unusual recipe finds Iíve ever run across.
21. Served with Lentils
This eggplant and lentil recipe incorporates a fun Indian spice blend called garam masala, which always adds a savory twist to anything you use it in. Pair it with your favorite flatbread and iced chai.
22. Eggplant Curry
Fat-Free Vegan offers up a hearty eggplant and chick pea curry to try for dinner. Since I love eggplant and am also always on the lookout for recipes using chick peas, it certainly seems like a win-win recipe to me.
23. Ethiopian Stew
If you like thick, substantial eggplant recipes you can eat with a spoon, then this Ethiopian stew recipe from Vegan Dad might be just the ticket. Especially if you know how to make injera bread.
24. Thai Eggplant
Iím sure there are WAY more options than Iím able to list here for Thai eggplant recipes, but I did find two that looked like they were worth the effort based on the flavor pairings used. First, this Thai spicy eggplant with sweet basil from Vegetarian Times uses strong flavors with a short ingredient list, resulting in an affordable recipe that can easily be served with jasmine rice from the pantry. Also, Simply Recipes has a green curry eggplant dish that does call for a few extra ingredients, but in the end provides a full-flavor dinner experience.
25. Eggplant and Spinach Muffuletta
Youíll need a seriously hearty bread in order to pull it off successfully, but this roasted eggplant and muffuletta sandwich from The Daily Green is designed for big eaters with big appetites. This would be fun for a lunch gathering where you made a long sandwich and sliced into sections for each guest to enjoy.
A vegetarian comfort food from Provence, ratatouille uses eggplant peppers and other produce in a satisfyingly-simple dish thatís been enjoyed in France for generations.
27. Eggplant Burgers
While Iím more used to rice and bean combinations when it comes to homemade veggie burgers, these eggplant burgers from The Tolerant Vegan provide a fresh twist on a vegetarian classic. You could sass things up a bit by adding tahini sauce, fresh spinach leaves and a hearty slice of tomato.
28. Aubergine Meatballs
Who needs wheat gluten when youíve got a recipe for these bad boys in your cupboard? The Daily Greenís eggplant meatballs take meatless to an entirely new level, and keep things interesting.
29. Eggplant Parmesan
Itís a classic for a reason. People dig it. This version from Skinny Taste lightens things up a bit with fat-free ricotta and reduced-fat mozzarella.
30. Minestrone Soup
There are countless ways to make a decent minestrone. This recipe from Growing Raw uses eggplant as well as carrots, garlic and other traditional ingredients for a healthy, traditional meal at the end of a cold dayís work.
31. Olive and Eggplant Dip
Whole Livingís olive and eggplant dip incorporates these two basic ingredients along with peppers and other regional ingredients for a snack thatís Mediterranean to the max.
32. Yemenite Eggplant Salad
You know I never pass up an opportunity to link to a traditional Middle Eastern recipe. This eggplant salad recipe from Yemen uses currants, allspice and even fresh mint, resulting in a side dish that celebrates the flavors of the Arabian peninsula.
Frittatas definitely represent the fancier side of frugal, as this eggplant and dill version from Food and Wine demonstrates. I like how they kept the list of ingredients basic, making it easy to pair a large number of lighter side dishes.
34. Roasted Vegetable Tart
If youíd like something to serve during harvest season that exemplifies the posher side of peasant food, consider this vegetable tart from Bon Appetit magazine. The recipe also calls for goat cheese, bell peppers and red-skinned potatoes, resulting in a flavor pairing thatís a true party in your mouth.
35. Romanian Baked Eggplant
Hey, why stop at the Med? This Romanian baked eggplant dish is simple enough to serve over rice or with crusty bread. Perfect with your favorite lager.
36. Basque Eggplant Casserole
Iíve been interested in exploring Basque food for some time now, so I was excited to find this eggplant casserole from the region. Featuring green peppers and mushrooms as well, the ingredient list is one I think most people could manage to implement from their local grocery store.
37. Armenian Eggplant and Walnut Dip
Need a little extra protein in your pre-dinner snack? Try this Armenian eggplant and walnut dip on for size. Using only the toasted nuts and garlic-roasted eggplant along with several seasonings, this dish can be whipped up in a jiffy if you have a food processor on hand. Provided you donít mind waiting for the eggplant to roast, that is.
38. Eggplant Rolls
Walnut fans have even more to be excited about with these walnut-stuffed eggplant rolls from Food Perestroika. They make a nice little appetizer and give you an opportunity to let your guests know youíre adventurous enough to experiment with Soviet cuisine.
39. Cambodian Stir Fry
This one surprised me, although Iím not sure why since Iíve seen eggplant used in other dishes from East Asia. A Cambodian stir fry recipe uses pork, shrimp, spicy peppers, eggplant of course, and other typical Khmer ingredients for a stick-to-your-ribs meal you can enjoy after a day of exploring, hiking or gardening.
40. Macedonian Eggplant Spread
Just when I thought there couldnít be another variation on eggplant spread to include in this article, I discovered Food.comís Maceconian Tolcheni, which is a dip-like spread made with eggplant and roasted red peppers. Bring on the toasted flatbread.
While itís true that eggplant makes an excellent addition to any vegan grocery list, itís also true that itís delicious when paired with lamb, chicken and other meats. Cheese fans will also find much to love from this list of eggplant recipes, as many of them would pair well with dairy items.
Photo Credit: J. Capaldi