Photo: Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Margaret Dickey; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis 

This purple beauty is frequently on the list of foods that people "don't like," but we're not convinced. With so many exciting ways to use it, there's something for everyone when it comes to this elegant summer veggie. The key is finding the right dish—an actually good eggplant dish.

July 20, 2017

There are a lot of misconceptions about eggplants out there, and it’s time that we put every last one of them to rest. First off, the bulbous vegetable has nothing to do with eggs, despite its misleading name, which originates from the 1700s when the plant more closely resembled goose and hen’s eggs. Today, the two foods have no real link. Second off, they are so much more than an evocative emoji (...we’re all thinking it, it’s fine...). Third off, they belong to a group of produce called “nightshade vegetables,” along with potatoes, peppers, and tomatoes. While this name sounds unsettling and ominous, it’s not a dig at the wondrous, purple food. Rather, this category of plants gets a bad reputation because they possess solanine, which at high levels can be toxic (although it’s very unlikely that you’ll consume enough to come close to the danger zone). If you have bad arthritis or painful joints, this might be something to note, but for the average person, there is no reason why you should be shying away from this glorious vegetable.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about the endless possibilities with eggplant. If you’re not convinced that you’re a fan of it, that probably just means you haven’t prepared it in the right way. That all changes today. From pasta dishes, to stuffed boats, to hearty butters, the sky's the limit. Now go forth, cook, and finally come to understand the beauty of the eggplant.

Lamb and Rice Stuffed Eggplant

Lamb- and Rice-Stuffed Eggplant image

 Photo: Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Margaret Dickey; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis 

It’s common knowledge that consuming food as boats for other foods is an exponentially better eating experience than eating any of the same foods alone. As it turns out, ground lamb and eggplant are a true match made in heaven. If you’re out of inspiration for weeknight dinners, add this into the rotation and watch as you convert your eggplant-hating family members into die-hard converts. Garnished with yogurt sauce, pistachios, and mint, these vibrant veggie boats are packed with rich, summer-inspired flavor in every bite.

Ratatouille Tart

Ratatouille Tart image

 Photo: Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Margaret Dickey; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis 

Yes, we’re sick of the rainbow food that has taken the internet by storm, but this color palette of a tart is definitely an exception. This incredibly eye-catching appetizer brings together zucchini, eggplant, baby bell peppers, and tomatoes for an all-out summer show-stopper. We cannot stress enough how perfect of an addition this would be to any entertaining menu. Topped with creamy goat cheese, this puff pastry treat hits all the best savory notes.

Eggplant Bolognese

Eggplant Bolognese image

 Photo: Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Margaret Dickey; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis 

Bolognese, a traditionally meat-based sauce served with pasta gets a lightened-up makeover in this veggie-forward dish. Rather than beef or pork, the tomato sauce relies on the umami flavor from sauteed eggplant and mushrooms, making it the perfect vegetarian substitution (just don’t forget to leave off the Parm if you’re going 100% vegetarian-friendly). Topped with fresh basil, this easy pasta dish screams summer, whether you’re obsessed with eggplant or not.

Watch Now: How to Make a Cheesy Eggplant Crust Pizza

 

Eggplant Pappardelle

Eggplant Pappardelle image

 Photo: Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Margaret Dickey; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis 

You’ve seen every veggie-noodle possible, but have you given eggplant a whirl? This no-spiralizer-required, alt-noodle situation is one that we can’t get enough of. Just under a minute in a hot skillet, these noodles get the perfect amount of browning, without wilting and becoming excessively soggy. The best part? A zesty, herbaceous pesto that coats these eggplant “noodles” in a fresh layer of green.

Eggplant Butter

Eggplant Butter image

 Photo: Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Margaret Dickey; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

Yes, this one sounds a little bit out there, but you’re just going to have to take our word for it. Whether you smear it across a piece of grilled, crusty bread, or you spoon it onto meat or fish, this multipurpose compound butter is going to get used up way quicker than you’d imagine. Capers and anchovies contribute a briny finish that make this bowl of eggplant greatness the perfect option for your next crudité spread.

Eggplant and Ham Fritters with Creamy Mustard Sauce

Eggplant and Ham Fritters with Creamy Mustard Sauce image

 Photo: Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Margaret Dickey; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis 

If all else fails and you’ve still yet to change the mind of your eggplant hater, then roll it in flour, brush it with an egg wash, and fry it, of course (that’s our life motto, at least). A crispy exterior, a succulent meat, and a side of creamy dipping sauce are sure to make just about anything better, and that is exactly what’s going on with these you-can’t-have-just-one fritters. Consider that aversion to eggplant GONE.

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