Roasting eggplant is really easy, if you know what you're doing. Eggplant is one of those finnicky vegetables that requires just a little bit of knowledge and finesse to perfect. We've all tried to just dump it into a pan with a glug of oil and ended up with rubbery, spongy cubes of weird-textured, watery eggplant. Well, not anymore! Today I'm going to share a few tips with you that will ensure you end up with creamy, dreamy, crunchy and perfectly roasted eggplant every time.
Do You Need to Salt Eggplant Beforehand? Maybe.
The first question when people talk about eggplant is always regarding salting. For years, I thought that in order to properly cook eggplant, you had to salt it and let it sit for at least 30 minutes. In general, when you are salting a vegetable you are drawing liquid out in order to have a less-watery finished product. This is necessary if you are cooking really big eggplants, like the classic supermarket Globe variety.
However, this step can be skipped entirely if you buy smaller eggplants. I always buy Chinese, Japanese or smaller Italian eggplant because they are petite and have less water in them. They are less bitter, cook quickly, and don't require any maintenance before the cooking! This is my first and most important recommendation when roasting eggplant. The smaller, the better!
You Can't Just Dump It On A Tray And Drizzle Oil On Top!
Unlike other vegetables that can just be plopped on a pan and drizzled with oil, eggplant needs a little TLC. Pour your oil in a bowl and then add eggplant cubes to the bowl, tossing very quickly. Each piece of eggplant needs a little oil to properly brown and caramelize! Even distribution is everything because 🍆 (using this emoji literally is too funny) is a sponge and one slice can absorb SO much oil if you’re not careful!
After seasoning, don't let it sit.
After you season your eggplant with salt and pepper it needs to immediately go into a really hot oven or pan and start cookin! If you phone a friend (who remembers who wants to be a millionaire? 🙋🏼♀️) or waste time scrolling the gram’ it will start leaking water and it will not brown properly! No procrastinating friends!
Preheat your pan while the oven heats up.
Instead of putting your eggplant on a cold pan, preheat your baking sheet in the oven too. Then carefully remove with an oven mitt once the oven is hot. Add a sheet of parchment, seasoned eggplant, and bake!
Don't Crowd the Pan!
Whenever you are roasting vegetables, you want them in an even layer, with some space in between the pieces of cut veg. You NEED TO ALLOW ROOM or else everything will steam and become a mushy mess. This is especially true for eggplant. If you feel like your pan is stuffed to the gills, add a second pan and use both. Trust me, it will be worth the extra pan to wash.
Salt + Pepper are only the beginning.
Spices are a great tool for turning regular roasted eggplant into insanely delicious roasted eggplant. I love adding ground cumin and coriander for a Middle Eastern flavor, and then serving the eggplant over yogurt. MMM!Print
simple but delicious roasted eggplant with olive oil, salt and pepper, perfect to enjoy as a side or as the star of a mezze platter
2 small eggplant, cubed*
¼-⅓ cup of high-quality, extra-virgin olive oil
optional: other spices such as ground cumin + ground coriander
- Place a large baking sheet into your cold oven. Preheat oven to 425º
- Cube eggplant and place into a clean, large bowl.
- Drizzle with ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil. Quickly toss, trying to coat all of cubes in a little bit of oil. Depending on the exact size of your eggplant, you may want more oil. If need be, add a few more drops or up to ⅓ of a cup.
- Wait until the oven is preheated to season eggplant with salt. Once it is hot, remove the baking sheet from the oven (wearing a mitt) and line with a sheet of parchment.
- Season eggplant generously with salt and pepper (about 1 teaspoon of each) and other herbs if using.
- Pour onto the baking sheet in an even layer (do not stack or crowd the pan) and bake for 10 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven and toss the cubes. Return the pan to the oven facing a different direction (rotated).
- Bake for 10-15 more minutes until the cubes are deeply golden. Try a piece to see if it is ready. It should be very soft inside and creamy, without a bite. Almost like a custard.
- When ready, remove and enjoy in any myriad of ways, or just on it's own!
- This will keep in the fridge for up to a week.
*I like Chinese or Japanese eggplant variety.
If using larger, wider eggplant, they need to be salted. Cut eggplant into cubes, then place into a large colander in the sink and season raw eggplant generously with salt. Let it sit for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, pour eggplant out onto a tray or baking sheet or cutting board lined with paper towels and pat dry. Season with pepper and other herbs. Move on to step 6.
- Category: How-Tos
- Method: Ovenroasted
- Cuisine: Middle Eastern, American
Keywords: eggplant, roasted eggplant, roasted vegetables
Want to make more simple side dishes? Check out my sauteéd spinach with lemon and garlic next!