Eggplant holds an esteemed place in many Mediterranean cuisines—caponata from Italy, ratatouille from Provence, moussaka from Greece, baba ghanouj from all over the Middle East, and myriad hot and cold dishes from Turkey, where eggplant is the king of vegetables.
But many American cooks hesitate when it comes to eggplant. What does salting the eggplant do? How to prevent it from soaking up all that oil? How to know if you're properly cooking it when you're grilling, roasting, or frying? Using these simple techniques for selection, preparation, and cooking, you'll be able to grill, roast, or fry eggplant to succulent, creamy perfection.
For more eggplant how-to,
start at the beginning and visit FineGardening.com for tips on growing your own eggplant, then watch our Test Kitchen pros demonstrate how to grill eggplant and how to roast eggplant.
For more ways to cook eggplant,
view a slideshow of our Top Summer Eggplant Recipes and subscribe to Fine Cooking magazine for more cooking techniques
and triple-tested recipes for eggplant.
Peel for the best texture
Peel the eggplant in stripes (unless you're using a tender-skinned variety) and then slice or cube it, depending on the recipe.
Because globe eggplant and other large varieties usually have tough skins, peeling it is a good idea, especially if you're serving it in chunks or slices. But I don't like to remove the skin entirely. Instead, I partially peel it in a striped fashion.
When you grill-roast the eggplant and then separate the flesh from the peel, keep the skin on during cooking to keep the eggplant intact.