You really only need to salt eggplant if it's old. Although, this meaty vegetable — which is actually a huge berry — has crazy huge pores that soak up oil like no other.
A lot of recipes tell you to salt sliced eggplant and let it sit for up to half an hour before cooking, to draw out bitterness. But Chowhounds think that, while large globe eggplants don't seem as bitter as they used to be, and smaller Italian and Asian eggplants rarely are anyway, there are other reasons to salt. Salting causes the eggplant to absorb less oil when you cook it and the final result is a firmer bite (no soggy, floppy eggplant). Older globe eggplants can still taste bitter. Check if the eggplant is old by looking at the seeds. If the seeds are dark when you cut the eggplant, then it's an older eggplant, so salt it. If the seeds are light, you can skip the salting if you want.
With that in mind, check out these 22 Eggplant Recipes and learn about these 8 Eggplant Varieties from Around the Globe to get all creative with the purple plant. But first, try these eggplant recipes (heavy on the eggplant Parm side) and test our to-salt-or-not-to-salt theories.
In our classic rendition, we suggest salting the eggplant slices and letting it drain in a colander for five minutes. Panko breadcrumbs give the dish an extra crunch. Get our Eggplant Parmesan recipe.
Grilled Eggplant Parmesan Salad
You might not be in the mood for something heavy like eggplant Parmesan. It's too muggy out, or whatever. We've got the solution: a bread salad. It's kinda like bruschetta, but heartier. Get our Grilled Eggplant Parmesan Salad recipe.
Eggplant Parmigiana Stacks
Stacked like a strata or layered like lasagna, this version gets taller and richer with ricotta. The list of ingredients is pretty much the same as a traditional recipe, besides the ricotta. It's just built differently. Try the recipe.
Almost every Greek swears that his or her mother or grandmother’s moussaka is the best. You be the judge. It's packed full of eggplant, zucchini, and ground beef and topped with a rich béchamel sauce. Get our Moussaka recipe.
Eggplant Parmesan Burgers with Homemade Poppy Seed Buns
It's all the flavors of your classic eggplant Parmesan, wrapped into one veggie burger. And with these poppy seed buns, you'll go crazy with adoration. Try the recipe.
Eggplant and Mushroom Polenta Bake
This is like an Italian take on vegetarian shepherd's pie, with the two namesake vegetables providing meatiness and the polenta substituting for mashed potatoes. With onions, crushed tomatoes, and olives, it's a chunky, hearty vegetable filling. Get our Eggplant and Mushroom Polenta Bake recipe.
Stir-Fried Tamarind Eggplant
To keep the eggplant from soaking up all the pan's oil, you just put a bit in there and then stir-fry it until it's crispy. Red bell peppers, Thai chiles, garlic, Thai basil, fish sauce, soy sauce, and tamarind paste add an assertive flavor. Get our Stir-Fried Tamarind Eggplant recipe.
— Original article was by Caitlin McGrath June 29, 2012.
— Head photo: White Oak Frozen Foods.
Amy Sowder is a New York City-based food and fitness writer who's also on Chowhound's editorial staff. She loves cheesy things, especially toasties and puns. She's trying to like mushrooms. Ice cream is a strong motivation for her running habit. Follow her on Instagram, Twitter, and her blog, What Do I Eat Now. Learn more at AmySowder.com.