If you're getting sick and tired of the same ol' eggplant routine — maybe sliced and thrown on the grill, or cubed and sautéed — it's time to shake things up. Grilling or roasting the eggplant whole until the skins blackens and the flesh softens to a pulp is arguably the best way to enjoy the vegetable, but what should you do with this charred eggplant? Oh, the possibilities.
Char It First
Charring a whole eggplant is as simple as piercing it all over with a fork and grilling it or roasting it for about 30 minutes to an hour.
Learn How: The Best Way to Cook Eggplant Is to Burn It
As the skin chars, the flesh cooks slowly, becoming ridiculously creamy and custardy while gaining a smoky yet sweet flavor. Once the vegetable is cooked, the flesh is so soft that it can simply be scooped out of the blackened skin and used in a number of delicious ways.
1. Blend it into soup.
The scooped-out flesh of a charred eggplant is a great base for a simple puréed soup. Add it to a pot with a little sautéed garlic or chopped onions along with some vegetable or chicken broth, bring it to a simmer, and blend it until smooth.
Get the Recipe: Smoky Eggplant Soup from The New York Times
2. Purée it into a creamy dip.
The classic way to used charred eggplant is to mash it or purée it into a dip. Middle Eastern baba ghanoush is made with the creamy eggplant flesh and tahini to make one glorious dip.
Get the Recipe: Baba Ghanoush (Eggplant Dip)
3. Enjoy it simply as is.
The flesh of a charred eggplant is so custardy and rich, you honestly don't need to do much with it at all. Don't hesitate to simply scoop it out and enjoy with nothing more than a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper, either on top of a salad or all on its own.
Get the Recipe: Lentils with Broiled Eggplant
4. Pile it into a sandwich.
You can also scoop that flesh out and spread it on good bread as the base for a killer sandwich. Top it with a handful of peppery arugula for crunch, or use it to enhance a caprese sandwich.
Get the Recipe: Caprese Sandwich for a Crowd
5. Toss it with pasta.
The eggplant's innards get all sweet and smoky when charred, so they're complex enough to be used as a pasta sauce without really anything else. Mash it with maybe a little sautéed garlic and chopped fresh basil and toss it with hot pasta for a satisfying dinner.
Get the Recipe: Spaghetti with Let-My-Eggplant-Go-Free! Sauce from The Wednesday Chef