Cooking with Aubergines

Eggplant Graphic
This page is intended to introduce you to a very versatile vegetable: the aubergine.

You can find out about the varieties of aubergine, how to select and buy them and finally different ways of cooking them.

The varieties of aubergine

The aubergine is also known in America as the eggplant. It is widely used as a vegetable throughout the Mediterranean and Asia.

However, aubergines can be quite small and their shape varies from thin and long to almost an oval shape. Their skin colour can range from white through lilacs and purples to the deep aubergine colour that we most commonly associate with the vegetable. The variegated versions can be streaked in two contrasting colours.

There is little difference in flavour between these varieties and the flesh should always be an untainted white


Selecting and buying aubergines

When buying an aubergine its skin should look shiny and unblemished. The flesh should be firm to the touch. Avoid any vegetables with bruising or marks on the skin. In particular look around the stem to see any signs of discolouring or withering.

Take care when picking up an aubergine because its stem might be prickly. The prickles are harmless but they might give you a scratch or pierce your skin.



Methods for cooking aubergines

Aubergines need to be cooked, they are not a very palatable vegetable in the raw state. They also do not lend themselves to being boiled, which leaves them as a rather pallid, soggy mass.


To fry an aubergine it needs to be cut into fairly thin slices, say no more than a quarter of an inch thick. Pour a little good quality oil (olive is best) into a heavy bottomed frying pan and put over a medium heat. Add the aubergines when the oil is sizzling hot and fry on both sides until the flesh is soft all the way through.


Aubergines are ideal for grilling. They should be cut into rounds or sliced lengthwise and brushed with a good quality oil to prevent them from drying up when grilled. Place under a hot grill. Turn the slices to brown on both sides.

This method can also be used on a barbecue or griddle.


The most common way of cooking an aubergine is probably to add it as an ingredient to a casserole. The aubergine can be left in quite big chunks when cooked like this. Baby  aubergines can even be cooked whole, but they are usually best if cut with several deep incisions first, to ensure that they are cooked all the way through.


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