23 Easy Eggplant Recipes For Any Night Of The Week

Eggplant is a misunderstood vegetable. Some people find it bitter, and others are turned off by its unique texture. If treated the right way, however, eggplant is a culinary powerhouse. Cultures across the world prepare this nutritious nightshade in thousands of different ways. It's an effective substitute for meat in applications like eggplant parmesan and vegan bacon. Smoky grilled eggplant is a summer staple, and eggplant dip makes for a fabulous appetizer. Eggplant is a lifesaver for weekday dinners because it combines well with so many other ingredients.

If you bought some eggplant and don't know what to do with it, or if you're just trying to find something new to make with this versatile vegetable, this list of recipes is guaranteed to help you out. It has classics like ratatouille as well as new ideas like eggplant burgers. Even eggplant skeptics will be converted by all the meaty, savory deliciousness hiding in that purple skin.

1. Eggplant gratin

Americans are probably most familiar with the gratin technique from potatoes au gratin or scalloped potatoes, but you can treat any ingredient the same way. At its most basic, the technique just means adding cheese and crumbs to a dish of vegetables and baking until crispy and golden brown. This recipe from Melissa Clark uses sliced eggplant and tomato and adds goat cheese, thyme, and lemon zest to bring acidity and brightness. Like any Italian-inspired recipe, good olive oil is essential to the flavor of this dish.

Recipe: Eggplant Tomato Gratin

2. Eggplant arancini

Arancini are usually balls of fried risotto with cheese filling, but our arancini swaps the rice with roasted, diced eggplant. Basil, garlic, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese add classic Italian flavor to this nontraditional arancini. If you serve these with some hot tomato sauce to dip on the side, they're reminiscent of a deconstructed eggplant parm. The secret to this recipe is allowing the eggplant to drain in a strainer, which gets rid of excess moisture and reduces bitterness.

Recipe: Eggplant Arancini

3. Eggplant carpaccio

This innovative vegetarian carpaccio replaces raw beef tenderloin with thin slices of grilled eggplant. After grilling, the eggplant gets pressed between two sheet pans to flatten it into the classic carpaccio shape. This dish gets finished with date molasses, a sweet and tart condiment that you can buy at Middle Eastern grocers or online. The date molasses combined with rose water, fresh herbs, and coriander seeds produces a fragrant, complex flavor that elevates the humble eggplant.

Recipe: Eggplant Carpaccio

4. Vegan eggplant BLT

It's tough to find a good vegan substitute for bacon, but crispy eggplant slices give you a similar combination of crunch and chew to the real thing. This recipe uses a marinade of liquid aminos, brown sugar, maple syrup, and liquid smoke to achieve that sweet, smoky, umami bacon flavor. The sandwich messes with the BLT formula even further by adding thinly sliced onion and radish and using fancy frisee lettuce. It may not please traditionalists, but the combination of crunch and flavor in this new-school BLT is hard to beat.

Recipe: Vegan Eggplant BLT

5. Eggplant ragout with creamy polenta

This is another recipe where eggplant takes the place of meat and you don't miss the meat at all. The eggplant here is caramelized to add a delicious crust and then braised in a combination of eggplant puree, red wine, and tomatoes. Lemon juice and honey enhance the acidity and sweetness of the tomatoes, which is a trick you can steal for other tomato sauce recipes. The recipe author suggests serving the ragout on top of polenta, but you could use it anywhere you would normally use a slow-cooked meat sauce. It would be great on fresh pasta or as the base of a vegetarian lasagna.

Recipe: Eggplant Ragout

6. Eggplant crostini

Cooked eggplant, with its soft, creamy mouthfeel, pairs well with crispy ingredients that add textural variation to a dish. These crostini use rounds of toasted bread as the perfect canvas for a sweet-and-sour eggplant caponata. Capers, olives, and shaved ricotta salata cheese add a briny kick that's mellowed out by sugary golden raisins. These would be great as a party appetizer or an antipasto for an Italian dinner, but they're also easy enough to whip up as a side dish for a simple weekday pantry pasta or seared steak.

Recipe: Eggplant Crostini

7. Smoky Eggplant with yogurt, mint, and toasted walnuts

Baba ganoush is probably the most well-known eggplant dip, but variations on mashed eggplant dishes show up all over the Mediterranean and the Middle East. This dip is based on Andy Baraghani's mother's recipe for Persian borani-e-bademjaan. The base of the dip is a simple blend of charred eggplant, yogurt, olive oil, onions, and garlic. It's the toppings that make this dish sing, with crispy fried onions and garlic bringing allium heat and fresh mint leaves cutting through all the richness.

Recipe: Borani-e-bademjaan

8. Charred eggplant and red onion skewers

These easy kebabs use a Japanese-inspired marinade to season tender chunks of Japanese eggplant. They're an easy way to add more vegetables to your backyard barbecue. The white miso in the marinade adds a meaty umami quality to the eggplant while honey enhances caramelization. The skewers taste great when they're freshly cooked, but they're equally enticing if they're prepared ahead and served at room temperature. Make sure to soak your bamboo skewers in water so they don't burn up on the grill.

Recipe: Grilled Eggplant Onion Skewers

9. Eggplant parmesan

Eggplant parmesan is perhaps the most iconic eggplant dish of all time, and for good reason. The contrast between the crispy fried crust and creamy cooked eggplant is divine, and eggplants and tomatoes are a natural combination. Any dish that's blanketed in melted cheese is sure to be a winner. Hillary Sterling's eggplant parmesan variation uses simple seared eggplant rather than breaded cutlets, adding a crispy crumb to the top of the dish to bring the crunch factor. This change makes the dish simpler to prepare and slightly lighter than traditional parm.

Recipe: Eggplant Parmesan

10. Grilled eggplant with ponzu sauce

Chef Tadashi Ono grills eggplant with sansho pepper, a Japanese green ground pepper seasoning you can buy at specialty stores or online. The chef sprays the skewers with sake to keep them moist and flavorful during the grilling process. The star of this recipe is the homemade ponzu, a blend of soy sauce, citrus juice, and other seasonings. You can buy bottled versions, but the homemade one is simple to make, and you can prepare a large batch to store in the fridge for a couple weeks.

Recipe: Grilled Eggplant with Ponzu Sauce

11. Puffed potatoes with miso-glazed eggplant

Eggplant doesn't always have to be the main component of a dish to make an impact. This recipe for stuffed potato puffs cooks diced eggplant down with sesame oil, miso, and sake to create a glaze that can be piped into the puffs. The potato element of this dish is based on French pate a choux and might be a little ambitious for a weekday, but the eggplant glaze is a versatile condiment that would pair well with grilled meats, rice, or steamed vegetables.

Recipe: Puffed Potatoes with Miso Glazed Eggplant

12. Ratatouille

Ratatouille isn't just a movie about a talking rodent who cooks. It's also a tasty vegetable stew from the south of France. It's a great way to cook all of your summer vegetables before they spoil. Unlike the fine dining version shown in the famous film that uses thin slices of each vegetable, this homestyle preparation simmers together large chunks of eggplant, zucchini, tomato, and bell pepper in plenty of olive oil and garlic. Try serving your ratatouille with a good baguette and a piece of fish for an easy dinner.

Recipe: Ratatouille

13. Lebanese eggplant dip

This recipe shows how the appeal of eggplant extends across borders. It comes from a Spanish-Indian restaurant in Dallas, Texas and is inspired by Lebanese moutaboul. The eggplant is pricked with a knife and charred whole under the broiler until it becomes soft and smoky. This is a great technique for making "grilled" eggplant if you don't have access to an outdoor grill. The restaurant serves their eggplant spread with naan, but pita or crackers would work too.

Recipe: Lebanese Eggplant Dip

14. Grilled spiced eggplant with yogurt and tomato-cucumber salad

Grilled eggplant tastes best when its richness is tempered with acidity. This dish calls for seasoning eggplant halves with warm spices and grilling them until tender but not falling apart. The one-two punch of lemony yogurt sauce and a cucumber-tomato salad lends plenty of acidity, freshness, and color. Make sure to use Japanese eggplants, because their tender skin and mild flavor work better in this context than the bitter toughness of Italian eggplant (no offense to Italy).

Recipe: Grilled Eggplant with Yogurt and Tomato Cucumber Salad

15. Eggplant, pepper and feta-stuffed phyllo boreks

Crunchy packages of filled dough are popular the world over, from empanadas in Latin America to spring rolls in Asia. The Mediterranean iteration of this theme is called a borek. Boreks are little cigars of buttery, crispy phyllo dough stuffed with a vegetable or meat filling. Chef Daniel Wright's version is filled with a sauteed mixture of eggplant, bell pepper, tomato, and feta. Phyllo is a notoriously difficult dough to make from scratch, so this recipe uses sheets of frozen phyllo to speed up the process.

Recipe: Eggplant Pepper Feta Borek

16. Eggplant-saffron romesco with toasted pita

The original Spanish romesco sauce is a blend of roasted red peppers, nuts, olive oil and vinegar that accompanies grilled spring onions. This eggplant romesco stretches the definition of the word, incorporating yogurt and charred eggplant. She takes the seasoning in a Middle Eastern direction, adding za'atar and serving the sauce with spice-dusted pita chips. Her technique for making homemade pita chips could work with any kind of seasoning mix or flavor profile you want. This romesco would also be excellent as a condiment for grilled lamb or mixed grilled vegetables.

Recipe: Eggplant Saffron Romesco with Toasted Pita

17. Eggplant burgers with tofu-basil sauce

These burgers aren't what they seem to be. The rounds of juicy, seared goodness inside the buns are thick slices of broiled eggplant instead of meat patties. The creamy spread is made with blended silken tofu instead of mayonnaise. This recipe doesn't try to emulate the flavors of a standard fast food burger, which is a good thing. Without the expectation of living up to a classic cheeseburger, this sandwich can be appreciated on its own merits.

Recipe: Eggplant Burgers with Tofu Basil Sauce

18. Stir-fried eggplant with honey, turmeric and soy

This easy vegetable side dish is based on the theories of Dr. Andrew Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet. You can put it together in minutes, and it uses only eight ingredients including oil and seasonings. The quickly stir-fried eggplant retains its natural soft-crisp texture, and a simple honey-soy glaze contributes sweetness and umami. Turmeric dyes the vegetables a lovely golden color and amps up the health benefits. This dish treats your body right, but it doesn't forget that food needs to taste good too.

Recipe: Stir-fried Eggplant with Honey Turmeric and Soy

19. Spaghetti with eggplant and tomato

Chef Michael Tusk recommends that this sauce be served with handmade spaghetti alla chitarra. The Pasta Project explains that this type of noodle is made by pushing fresh pasta dough through a special cutting device called a chitarra (in English, a guitar). If you can't find fresh noodles, regular dried spaghetti will work too. The sauce combines pureed, caramelized eggplant with cherry tomatoes that are roasted to concentrate their flavor. The chef says that assertive cheeses can overwhelm the delicate flavors of this sauce, so he tops it with mild grated caciocavallo instead of Parmesan.

Recipe: Spaghetti with Eggplant and Tomato

20. Grilled swordfish with eggplant and pepper salad

This dish is adapted from Food Network grill master Bobby Flay. You can grill all the components of this dish simultaneously for quick and easy prep. The butteriness of the grilled swordfish mellows out the acidity of the French mustard vinaigrette sauce that seasons the dish. The addition of peppery watercress wakes up the classic combination of grilled eggplant and peppers. Flay adds a little Southwest twist to this European-inspired dish with a poblano chile. It's a perfect recipe for a light summer supper with white wine.

Recipe: Grilled Swordfish with Eggplant and Pepper Salad

21. Gluten-free baked eggplant Parmesan

This wheat-free take on eggplant Parmesan doesn't lose any of the craveability of the original. You coat the eggplant with a blend of ground almonds and grated Parmesan cheese instead of breadcrumbs. Rather than laboriously frying each slice of eggplant, you bake them in the oven, which is both easier and healthier than the traditional method. The tomato sauce in this dish uses the classic garlic powder and dried herb flavors you remember from the eggplant Parmesan you grew up with.

Recipe: Gluten-free Eggplant Parmesan

22. Pan-fried pork cutlets with minty eggplant relish

Fried breaded pork cutlets are an easy, crowd-pleasing dinner that goes well with a wide variety of sauces and sides. The minty eggplant relish in this dish falls somewhere between a condiment and a salad. To make it, you mix browned eggplant cubes with balsamic, lemon juice, tomatoes, and fresh mint. The sharp flavor of the vinegar adds interest to the relatively plain fried cutlets. The interplay of textures between crispy pork and velvety eggplant is hard to beat.

Recipe: Pan-fried Pork Cutlets with Minty Eggplant Relish

23. Eggplant caponata

This eggplant dish comes from the kitchen of Philadelphia celebrity chef Marc Vetri's Roman-style trattoria, Amis. Caponata can be thought of as an Italian variation on ratatouille, but it has a more complex flavor than Provence's basic eggplant stew. The fennel in this caponata adds a faint note of anise, and toasted pine nuts contribute much-needed crunch. Caponata is equally good warm or cold, and can be used as a dip or a sandwich filling. This recipe makes a big batch, so you can experiment with a few different ways of serving it.

Recipe: Eggplant Caponata