How to Cook Eggplant

Oftentimes, when people don't know how to cook eggplant properly, it can come out gummy or tough. With a few simple tips, however, you can create eggplant dishes like a professional chef. These easy eggplant recipes are a great place to start.

The biggest step you can take to improve the texture of your eggplant is to purge it of its liquid before you cook it. This is done by slicing it, heavily salting the slices and letting them sit on a rack for about an hour, flipping them over once. The salt draws the water out of the eggplant, which helps prevent it from turning gummy once it's cooked. Simply rinse off the salt, and pat the slices dry when they're done purging. Then proceed as the recipe directs you.

Ingredients You Will Need:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large eggplant, slices purged and diced into 1-inch cubes
1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 sprigs thyme, leaves removed and roughly chopped
1 anchovy
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
2 large tomatoes, seeded and diced
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ bunch basil, leaves removed and roughly chopped

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant and onion, and let cook until they are golden, about eight minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, anchovy and red pepper flakes, and turn the heat down to medium. Sauté for a few more minutes, and add the salt and pepper, tomatoes and vinegar. Let cook until the vinegar completely evaporates and the eggplant is tender, about five more minutes. Stir in the basil, and serve. It works great over grilled fish or tossed with pasta.

Parmesan Eggplant Sticks
Ingredients You Will Need:
1 large eggplant, purged and cut into sticks about the size of your index finger
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten
¼ cup milk
1 cup bread crumbs
¾ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup canola oil
2 cups of your favorite marinara sauce

Season the eggplant with the salt and pepper. Pour the flour into one bowl, mix the eggs with the milk in another and mix the bread crumbs and ½ a cup of the parmesan in a third. Dip the eggplant into the flour, then the egg mixture and finally the bread crumb mixture, making sure to knock off the excess after each dip. Heat the oil in a medium-sized pan to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Fry the eggplant sticks until they are golden and tender, about three minutes per side. When they are done, dust them with the rest of the parmesan and serve them with the marinara sauce for dipping.

Mozzarella Eggplant Stacks
Ingredients You Will Need:
¼ cup plus 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium eggplant, sliced ½-inch thick and purged
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup flour
2 balls fresh mozzarella
½ cup toasted pine nuts
½ bunch basil, leaves removed

Heat four tablespoons of the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Season the eggplant with the salt and pepper, and coat it in the flour, being sure to knock off all excess. Cook until golden on both sides, about four minutes total. Slice the mozzarella about ¼-inch thick. Lay down a slice of the eggplant and cover it in a slice of mozzarella. Top with a few pine nuts and a few leaves of basil. Put another piece of eggplant on top and repeat. Stack as high as you desire, about three tiers works well. Cover the last slice of eggplant with only mozzarella cheese. Bake in an oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until the cheese is melted and golden, about 10 minutes. Drizzle the stacks with the remaining olive oil and serve immediately.

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