By Marge Perry
Updated October 11, 2010
After just 20 minutes in the oven, thick slices of eggplant brushed with olive oil become a meltingly tender side dish or a spectacular vegetarian main course. If you don't have time to make the sauce, serve with a warm bottled marinara sauce. Recipe:Olive Oil-Braised Eggplant with Fresh Tomato and Pomegranate Sauce
| Credit: Jean Allsopp

To salt eggplant, peel and cut it in whatever size and shape pieces the recipe calls for. Place it in a colander, sprinkle generously with salt (don't worry, you'll be rinsing most of it off before you cook it) and let it sit for about an hour. Before using, thoroughly rinse the eggplant and pat it dry.

Although not all eggplant recipes call for salting it, saltingeggplant improves it in two ways. First, it makes it less bitter. Many people believe that salt somehow draws out the bitter flavor of eggplant along with the juices, but that's not quite the way it works. Salt makes eggplant taste less bitter because salt always makes foods taste less bitter.

Salting eggplant also makes it less spongy. As the salt extracts liquid from the eggplant, it collapses all the little air pockets. And when the eggplant becomes more firm, it absorbs less oil. Ironically, salting the eggplant actually makes it healthier! (Of course, that's only true because you rinse almost all the salt off).

Recipe:Olive Oil-Braised Eggplant with Fresh Tomato and Pomegranate Sauce