This is a recipe for how to roast eggplant in the oven so each piece is plump and juicy on the inside, and beautifully caramelised on the outside. Never again suffer through a tray of mushy mess!
The quickest way to elevate (almost) any vegetable is to roast it. And eggplant is no exception! It’s nothing interesting when raw – pretty tasteless actually.
But when you give it a good blast in a hot oven, it completely transforms. That moment when you bite through the gorgeous caramelised edges and the juicy flesh inside bursts in your mouth… UGH! So good!
What you need for roasted eggplant
Cross my heart, you don’t need anything more than salt, pepper and olive oil to roast eggplant. The caramelisation adds tons of flavour!
Eggplant roasting problems!
A common problem people run into when roasting eggplant cubes is that they turn into mush before they caramelise. Been there, done that!
The key to fix this is simple:
- cut into large pieces – smaller pieces cook too quickly and turn into mush before the outside has a chance to caramelise; and
- roast at a high temperature so the surface gets “sealed” and holds in the juicy inside.
The other problem some people have is that when they go to flip or serve the eggplant cubes, the caramelised skin comes off. This happens if:
- you’ve skimped on the oil; or
- the flip you use doesn’t have a sharpish edge.
So if you’re a roasted eggplant newbie, parchment / baking paper is highly recommended – this will ensure you don’t lose any of that caramelised skin! (Seriously, it will make you cry if it all gets stuck on the pan)
How to roast eggplant
So with that said and done, here is how to cut and roast eggplant:
- cut into thick 3cm / 1.2″ slices, then cut each slice into pieces to form cubes / rectangles
- drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper then toss well in a bowl using a rubber spatula
- spread out on tray and bake at 240°C/ 450°F for 20 minutes, flip, then for another 10 minutes, until the eggplant is super soft and caramelised on the edges
Peeling – if you’re bothered by eggplant skin (which I am not – I don’t find it at all chewy), peel “zebra tripes” down the eggplant like this. If you don’t leave at least some skin on, then the eggplant cubes are prone to collapsing and turning into mush – you need some skin to hold it together.
Bitterness & salting – In the past, the standard preparation method for eggplant including salting the eggplant to remove bitterness. The eggplant of today has largely had the bitterness bred out of it so unless you have a very old, very large one, you shouldn’t have this problem. I never have, and I only salt eggplant for specific recipes (like Greek Moussaka).
However, if you can’t get your head around cooking eggplant without salting it, here’s how: sprinkle the cubed eggplant with 1 tsp salt, toss, leave in colander for 30 minutes. Rinse then thoroughly pat dry, toss with oil and pepper (NO SALT), roast per recipe.
Select eggplants that are firm but have a bit of give, and feel heavy for their size (light = dried out inside).
Extra flavour and serving Roasted Eggplant
I truly mean it when I say that eggplant roasted with just salt and pepper is so good, you will be completely happy to eat it plain. And that’s certainly the way I serve it most of the time. It’s so juicy, you don’t even need a sauce!
But if you want to jazz it up a bit, here are a few ideas:
Thyme (my favourite, pictured below) – 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves sprinkled over. It goes so well with roasted eggplant, makes it taste almost buttery;
Parsley, chives or green onions – for touch of freshness and colour (not so much flavour);
Lemon juice – squeeze of fresh lemon juice (also great paired with thyme);
Balsamic vinegar (tiny drizzle) – pop of tartness is terrific! OR drizzle of balsamic glaze;
Dollop of yogurt – creamy yogurt pairs really well with the juicy eggplant flesh;
Pomegranate – plus yogurt. Looks spectacular!
- Sprinkle of parmesan – reminiscent of Eggplant Parmesan.
More ways to use roasted eggplant!
And a few other ideas for ways to use roasted eggplant:
- Dip / spread – Mash it (discard skin) then serve as dip or spread on toast;
- On toast – Piled on toast slathered with butter (or ricotta) – try this crusty homemade bread;
- Pasta – With a basic tomato pasta sauce and finished with a generous sprinkling of parmesan;
- Stirred into curries (the roasting adds so much better flavour!) – try any of these curries but especially Thai Red Curry or Green Curry, this Coconut Curry Sauce; this epic Massaman Lamb Shank Curry. Just stir it in towards the end – it will absorb flavour fast and it will collapse if simmered in the sauce for too long
- Stuffed into an omelette;
- Tossed through a pasta salad;
- Stirred into a stew or soup, like this quick Chicken Stew, this Chickpea Lamb Shawarma Soup, this hearty Beef and Vegetable Soup, Minestrone Soup, Lentil Soup (seriously amazing!) or this Brazilian Coconut Chickpea Stew.
OR in this big, juicy lentil salad piled high with roasted eggplant that I also shared today.
Don’t run for the hills at the thought of lentils – you haven’t tried MY lentil salad yet! It is not your usual bland and boring lentil salad, that’s for sure! – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
Oven roasted eggplant (aubergine)
- 700g/ 1.2 lb eggplants (2 medium), aka aubergine
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt (kosher / cooking salt, or 1/4 tsp table salt)
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- Preheat oven to 240°C / 450°F (220°C fan).
- Line a tray with parchment/baking paper (optional - recommended for first timers so you don't lose the caramelised surface).
- Cut eggplant into large cubes - 3 cm / 1.2". Place in large bowl, drizzle with oil, salt and pepper.
- Toss well, spread on tray, roast 20 minutes. Turn, roast for a further 10 minutes - edges should be caramelised, soft inside, but they're not shrivelled up and dismal.
- Transfer to serving plate. Delicious served plain, but see below for some finishing options.
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (my favourite!), drizzle of fresh lemon juice, parsley, chives or green onions (for touch of freshness and colour, not so much flavour), tiny drizzle of balsamic vinegar (pop of tartness is terrific! OR drizzle of balsamic glaze), dollop of yogurt (creamy yogurt pairs really well with the juicy eggplant flesh).
Life of Dozer
Some people don’t find lunch at my place very relaxing….