Ready to love eggplant? 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. Our best eggplant recipes are sure to convert even the most skeptical eaters. 

By Sara Tane and Sara Tane
Updated July 20, 2017
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Credit:  Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Margaret Dickey; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

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

Credit:  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

Credit: 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

Credit: 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.

Eggplant Pappardelle

Credit: 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

Credit: 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

Credit: 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.

Hungry for more? Find our favorite healthy and hearty eggplant recipes below. 27 Hearty and Healthy Eggplant Recipes

Image zoom Grilled Eggplant-and-Corn Romesco Napoleons Grilled Eggplant-and-Corn Romesco Napoleons Recipe

Eggplant is an incredibly versatile vegetable and a good choice for meatless meals. In this cheesy Rollups recipe, eggplant stands in for a delicious substitute for pasta. Eggplants enjoy the same growing conditions as tomatoes, so try growing your own this year. Photo: Cedric Angeles; Food Styling: Tina Bell Stamos; Prop Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

Image zoom Eggplant Rollatini Eggplant Rollatini Recipe

Looking for an easy eggplant rollatini recipe? This savory eggplant rollatini is an easy and unexpected party appetizer. Cut each roll-up in half and serve with toothpicks for a pop-in-your-mouth bite. Hungry for more? Check out this collection of 40 Easy Eggplant Recipes next. Photo: Greg Dupree; Food Styling: Mary Claire Britton and Kady Wohlfarth; Prop Styling: Sarah Elizabeth Cleveland

Image zoom Greek Eggplant Skillet Dinner Greek Eggplant Skillet Dinner Recipe

Protein-rich tofu teams up with meaty eggplant in this Greek-inspired skillet supper. Pick up San Marzano tomatoes if you can find them; their sweet flavor and low acidity balance the flavors of this dish. Crush them gently with your hands before chopping to release any excess juices. Be sure to purchase extra-firm tofu so that it holds its shape. Serve with toasted whole-wheat pita bread. Caitlin Bensel

Image zoom Spicy Eggplant With Plums Spicy Eggplant With Plums Recipe

This combo of spicy char, sweet fruit, and creamy yogurt is a surefire hit. For a tasty swap, try halved pitted cherries in place of plums. Caitlin Bensel

Image zoom Miso-Glazed Eggplant Steaks Miso-Glazed Eggplant Steaks Recipe

To quote Robin Bashinsky, the mastermind behind this recipe, “This is a dish full of char and vigor.” Savory miso is a natural match for thick eggplant steaks; look for miso in the refrigerated section of your grocery store’s produce department. Caitlin Bensel

Image zoom Eggplant Caponata Eggplant Caponata Recipe

Caponata is a classic Sicilian side typically made with fried eggplant. Our lighter version gets a quick sauté in heart-healthy olive oil. Caitlin Bensel

Image zoom Warm Pasta Salad with Tomatoes and Eggplant Warm Pasta Salad with Tomatoes and Eggplant Recipe

Congratulations—You just found your new go-to pasta salad! This veggie-packed beauty is nice and filling, thanks to meaty eggplant. If you can’t find burrata, simply tear 6 ounces of fresh mozzarella into bite-size pieces. Heading to a potluck? Feel free to make this recipe ahead of time; just be sure to let it come to room temperature and toss with an extra drizzle of vinegar and oil before serving. Add a few tablespoons of chopped fresh basil leaves for an extra layer of flavor. Victor Protasio

Image zoom Eggplant Parmesan Eggplant Parmesan Recipe

Perfect for Meatless Mondays, this easy eggplant parmesan recipe is not only delicious, but also healthy. Make baked eggplant parmesan instead of lasagna to skip the unnecessary carbs and still enjoy all the cheesy goodness. When breading the eggplant, make sure to use whole-wheat panko instead of regular panko to avoid sogginess. A great crowd-pleaser Italian dish, elevate this eggplant parmesan with our homemade tomato sauce. Don’t skimp on the fresh basil to provide a fresh and earthy flavor to this baked dish. Make sure to save enough cheese at the end to sprinkle on top for the final crispy, cheesy layer. Caitlin Bensel

Image zoom Harissa-Roasted Eggplant with Minced Chicken Harissa-Roasted Eggplant with Minced Chicken Recipe

Here we play with the concept of meat as condiment, using a small amount of rich chicken thighs as a sort of relish on spicy roasted eggplant. Creamy Greek yogurt offers cooling balance to the heat of harissa. Jennifer Causey

Image zoom Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan Recipe

Our Test Kitchen made eggplant Parmesan easier (and healthier!) without sacrificing any of the comforting flavor of the original home-cooked dish. Photo: Greg DuPree; Prop Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levine; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Image zoom Roasted Tomato-Eggplant Soup with Garlic Croutons Roasted Tomato-Eggplant Soup with Garlic Croutons Recipe

Tomato soup gets a flavorful new twist: Roasted eggplant adds creaminess, and caramelized onions and carrots add sweetness. Photo: Jennifer Causey; Prop Styling: Ginny Branch Stelling; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Image zoom Charred Eggplant Dip with Tahini Charred Eggplant Dip with Tahini Recipe

Perfect for entertaining or a hearty spread to snack off of all week, this nutritious charred eggplant dip is as easy as to make it is delicious. Roasting the eggplant at a super high temperature leads to a creamy flesh that's the perfect backbone for a your dip. Don't worry if the skin is extra charred and looks burnt—this makes for a more flavorful end product. Mixed with Greek yogurt and tahini, this Meditteranean-inspired spread is ultra rich. Serve it with fresh veggies, warm pita, or smear it across a piece of toast. You could even use it as your sauce for a flatbread or pizza; simply top with roasted or fresh veggies and a sprinkle of crumbled feta or goat cheese. Sara Tane

Image zoom Grilled Japanese Eggplant, Zucchini, and Onions Grilled Japanese Eggplant, Zucchini, and Onions Recipe
This 3-ingredient recipe is perfect for outdoor grilling on warm summer nights. Greg DuPree; Food Styling: Torie Cox; Prop Styling: Chelsea Zimmer

If you thought zoodles were good, wait until you give eggplant “noodles” a go. Swapping pappardelle pasta for long ribbons of eggplant makes for a stunning and flavor-packed, veggie-forward entree you’ll love to serve to guests. The key is to make sure you do not overcook the eggplant, as it should be tender, but still have some body to it. To do this, be sure to get the oil hot before adding your eggplant, and cook the eggplant undisturbed to promote browning. Turning the heat off when stirring in the pesto keeps the eggplant from burning. This dish is not ideal for reheating, so aim to eat what you make. However, on its own, the scrumptious pesto sauce is worth doubling to have leftovers you can use throughout the week. Photo: Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Margaret Dickey; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

If you’ve ever experienced the disappointment that is a bland eggplant boat hidden under copious amounts of sauce and cheese… rest assured, this isn’t that. A variety of dried spices provide a wealth of warm, aromatic flavors, while ground lamb delivers a distinct richness, and fresh mint provides a pop of herbaceous energy—ultimately, making for an incredibly satisfying meal. Photo: Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Margaret Dickey; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

Image zoom Pasta with Eggplant, Burrata, and Mint Pasta with Eggplant, Burrata, and Mint Recipe
All you need is a glass of chilled white wine and a bowl of this pasta to transport yourself to Italy on a weeknight. This dish might look simple but it’s surprisingly decadent, thanks to luscious burrata cheese, which is fresh mozzarella filled with cream. Photo: Greg DuPree; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Cat Steele

Image zoom Charred Eggplant with Salsa Verde and Burrata Charred Eggplant with Salsa Verde and Burrata Recipe
Take advantage of the summer sun and cook a deliciously healthy dinner on the grill.

This umami-rich compound butter is the perfect summery spread to put eggplant to delicious use. Spoon the butter over grilled meats, toss with roasted veggies, swirl into sauces or pastas, or sread it simply over grilled bread for a scrumptious snack. Photo: Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Margaret Dickey; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

Crispy on the outside and pillowy on the inside, these golden, savory fritters are the perfect starter or brunch dish. With a delicate eggplant flavor, deliciously balanced by smoky ham, this is the perfect gateway recipe for anyone who claims to “hate” eggplant. Try not to over-mix the batter as this will make your fritters chewy, and be sure to work in small batches while frying so you don’t overcrowd the pan. If you have trouble finding crème frâiche, you can easily substitute full-fat sour cream. Photo: Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Margaret Dickey; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

Image zoom Eggplant Bolognese Eggplant Bolognese Recipe
This hearty veggie-forward main dish swaps pork and beef with grated eggplant and mushrooms for a robust, vegetable-based take on traditional pasta bolognese. That said, this is not the type of veggie dish that leaves one wanting, the eggplant and mushrooms develop a deeply rich flavor as the sauce simmers and thickens, delivering plenty of satisfying, umami goodness. Photo: John Autry; Styling: Cindy Barr

Image zoom Eggplant-Yogurt Dip Eggplant-Yogurt Dip Recipe
Prepare to sample your next favorite dip recipe. Creamy and flavorful, this dip pairs perfectly with pita chips or veggie slices. Greg DuPree

Image zoom Eggplant Rollups Eggplant Rollups Recipe
Looking for a lower-carb alternative to lasagna? Try these delicious Eggplant Rollups filled with herbed ricotta and baked in your favorite marinara sauce. Greg Dupree

Image zoom Eggplant "Pizzettes" Eggplant "Pizzettes" Recipe

Lunch: Keep hunger pangs away with these healthy and delicious dishes! 150 calories and under. Lose weight the 5:2 way. This healthy, quick and easy recipe is featured in the lunch section of the new 5:2 Starter's Guide to The 2-Day Diet. The book provides a selection of over 100 tasty recipes that meet the daily 500 calorie allotment for the 2 days of intermittent fasting, as required by the 5:2 Diet.

Image zoom Grilled Eggplant and Purple Cauliflower Caponata Grilled Eggplant and Purple Cauliflower Caponata Recipe

Purple cauliflower is becoming more widely available at farmers markets; white cauliflower would also be delicious here.

Image zoom Cheesy Eggplant Crust Pizza Cheesy Eggplant Crust Pizza Recipe

Eggplant and pizza—they make sense together. But this cheesy-good recipe puts the tasty pairing to work in a new, veggie-forward way.

Image zoom Grilled Eggplant, Tomatoes, and Zucchini Grilled Eggplant, Tomatoes, and Zucchini Recipe

This basic method for grilled eggplant, tomatoes, and zucchini works for other vegetables too, including green onions and halved bell peppers. Dan Goldberg 1 of 26 Advertisement