How to Bake Eggplant
Baked eggplant is a classic, healthy dish that is very easy to prepare in its most basic form. Many people avoid baking eggplant because it can turn out oily and soggy if you aren't careful. Keep reading to learn how to prepare baked eggplant with just the right texture - creamy on the inside with a light layer of crunch on the outside.
- Prep time: 40-45 minutes
- Cook time: 20 minutes
- Total time: 60-65 minutes
Choosing and Processing the Eggplant
Select a good eggplant.An eggplant, whether you choose the large variety or the smaller baby eggplants, should feel firm, even when ripe. Find one with smooth skin that is dark purple or black without too many bruises or blemishes.
Wash the eggplant.Rinse the eggplant thoroughly in cool water, making sure to scrub away any dirt from the surface of the skin. You may want to use a vegetable scrub brush, especially if your eggplant is from a farmer's market and still has bits of soil on it.
Slice the eggplant.Place the eggplant on its side on a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut off the tip of the eggplant from the smaller end, taking care to remove the green cap and stem. Next, slice the eggplant according to your taste. Choose from the following common ways of slicing eggplant to prepare it for baking:
- Slice it in half lengthwise. This is the simplest, most straightforward method, and is a great option if you're working with small eggplants. Each half of the eggplant will account for one serving. Place the eggplant on the cutting board and carefully slice it from tip to tip.
- Slice it into discs. This is another popular method for preparing baked eggplant. Discs of eggplant may be baked by itself or used as the foundation for more complicated dishes, like stuffed eggplant. Place the eggplant on its side on the cutting board and use a knife to slice it into discs of equal width.
- Slice it into cubes. Since eggplant breaks down when it bakes, slicing it into cubes results in a softer, creamier baked dish overall. To prepare it this way, slice the eggplant into discs, then slice each disc into quarters.
Salting the Eggplant
Sprinkle the sliced eggplant with kosher salt.Place the cut eggplant on a baking sheet lined with paper towels and use a liberal amount of salt on the open side of the eggplant slices. Salting helps draw out the extra water, so the baked eggplant will turn out less watery and mushy. It also prevents the eggplant from soaking up too much oil. You can skip this step if you're in a hurry, but it's worth doing if you want the texture of your eggplant to turn out perfectly.
Wait thirty minutes.As the salt sits on the eggplant slices, you will see droplets of water begin to bead and drip from the fruit. If you don't see this occurring, sprinkle more salt on the eggplant.
Squeeze the saltwater from the eggplant slices.Carefully squeeze the water into a bowl or the sink, then pat the eggplant slices with paper towels to absorb the excess moisture. Be careful not to squeeze too hard and crush the eggplant.
Baking the Eggplant
Preheat the oven to 350 °F (177 °C).
Oil the eggplant slices.Lay the eggplant cut-side up on a baking sheet. Drizzle the eggplant with olive oil or another type of vegetable oil. Use a pastry brush or the back of a spoon to smooth the oil over the eggplant until the flesh is lightly coated all over. Sprinkle the slices with salt and pepper.
Bake the eggplant.Place the eggplant in the oven and bake it until the inside is creamy and the edges and surface have turned brown and crispy, about 20 minutes.
- If you'd like cheesy eggplant, remove it from the oven and sprinkle it with Parmesan, cheddar, or goat cheese. Place it back in the oven for another 5 minutes, until the cheese is melted.
- For another variation, try tomato garlic eggplant. Place tomato halves and garlic cloves around the eggplant slices and bake them together for 30 minutes.
QuestionCan you bake eggplant and mozzarella together at the same time?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf you try to bake a slab of eggplant with mozzarella on it, the mozzarella will burn before the eggplant cooks. You can bake them together, but either cut the eggplant very thin or put the mozzarella on after the eggplant cooks a little while.Thanks!
QuestionI can't salt foods because of health challenges, so how else can the water come out?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou can put the slices in the microwave on a towel, then press out the remaining water with a flat pan.Thanks!
QuestionCan I make eggplant Parmesan with the baked slices?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, but don't delay. The eggplant, like a peach or banana, oxidizes when cut and will turn brown to grey. You could try lemon juice or "fruit fresh," but that would change the outcome.Thanks!
QuestionDo I need to bake the eggplant before mixing it with other ingredients?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt depends what recipe you are using, and what the recipe specifically calls for. Consult your recipe for specific cooking instructions.Thanks!
QuestionIf I want to add tomato sauce, can I cook an eggplant with sauce at the same time? How long do I cook it?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, you can. Bake the eggplant according to the above instructions, then add sauce and bake for an additional 5 minutes.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I draw moisture out of eggplant without salt or a microwave?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou can try a dehydrator. Monitor the progress. Too long will result in eggplant chips.Thanks!
QuestionCan I bake eggplant with brown sugar and butter?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou could, but I'm not sure how good it would taste.Thanks!
QuestionCan I use regular salt if I don't have sea salt?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, you can. It's just not considered to be as healthy as sea salt but it works just the same.Thanks!
QuestionWhat difference will it make if I forget the oil?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThe eggplant will be drier and slightly less flavorful, but still good.Thanks!
If the baked eggplant turns greenish, can it be eaten?
Do I cover eggplant while baking?
How long should it be in the microwave to draw out the water?
How long does it take to bake eggplant that is already stuffed?
- If your eggplant seems to be getting a little dry, spritz it with a little water in addition to pouring a bit of water into the cooking dish. Alternatively, you can place a metal cup of water in the oven with the eggplant.
- Check on your eggplant while it's baking from time to time - the time required can vary greatly with the size of your eggplant.
- Make sure that you choose firm, glossy eggplants that have no signs of deterioration (i.e. soft spots, large blemishes).
- You may prefer to chop your eggplant into cubes and add these to a roast chicken or other dish while it's in the oven.
- A more flavorful recipe using baked eggplant is the Italian classic eggplant parmesan.
- Always make sure that you wash your eggplants well before using them.
- Do not touch the eggplant straight away with your bare hands when it comes out of the oven - it's hot!
Sources and Citations
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Padmini Ravindra Nath
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