If you get them from the store, they will probably be more bitter. You will have to slice and salt the eggplant to extract the bitterness, and by doing this you will also stifle the plant's ability to soak up all those yummy sauces. The fresher the eggplant is, the less seeds it will have and therefore the less naturally bitter it will be. Read: BUY YOUR EGGPLANTS AT THE FARMERS MARKET!
The way most people have experienced eggplant is coated and fried as in Eggplant Parm. While I do love me a good deep fried veggie, here are a few other random and healthy alternative methods I've been using with my eggplant.
- Marinate in an acidic base like vinegar, soy sauce, with a bit of sugar, ginger and garlic added before throwing them on the grill for sandwiches.
- Slice and season with olive oil, salt and garlic. Broil, turning once, for about 10 minutes and then top with goat cheese, roasted red peppers and tomatoes.
- Slice, coat with olive oil, and cook on a grill pan for 1 to 2 minutes before adding slices to a pizza.
- Fork holes into a whole eggplant and bake at 450 for an hour, cool and scoop out the flesh. Mix with spices for a tahini-like dip with pita.
- Layer Tomato sauce, polenta slices, mozzarella and pan-grilled eggplant slices in a mock-sagna. Even got the Batman to love this one.
My favorite thing to do with Eggplant is quite simple however. Simply sauteing it in olive oil with some other ingredients for a fresh and seasonal pasta.
Pasta (ended up going with Penne)
Couple cloves pressed garlic
Couple Ripe tomatoes (how pretty and colorful are these??)
Handful of green or kalamata olives
Red Wine Vinegar (can use red wine or balsamic as a substitute)
Saute some garlic in your pan with olive oil. If you don't like chopping garlic, or if you don't mind it but simply don't have time for it and reach for the garlic powder instead, you need this tool. The garlic press from PC is amazing... you don't even have to take the skin off the garlic. Just throw it in like so and press. So much easier than chopping, and actually even tastier because by pressing it, all the oils in the garlic are released.
See? That took approximately 6 seconds for my kitchen to smell amazing.
Add chopped eggplant, chopped tomatoes, and some onions if you feel like it. Saute for a bit before adding about 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar (or substitutes)
Add a handful of roughly chopped olives.