By Prudence Wade
Aubergines are one of the more divisive vegetables out there.
Many people have been scarred by an unfortunate run-in with eggplant – maybe it was undercooked, making it spongy and unpleasant.
And yet there are plenty of reasons to love the nightshade veg, particularly as there are plenty of health benefits too – aubergines are packed full of antioxidants, high in fibre, and contain a range of nutrients said to support heart health.
Plus – most importantly – when cooked right, aubergines are sweet and delicious.
Here are some of the best ways to eat them.
1. In baba ganoush
Hummus is a picnic staple, but what if you want to mix up your dip game this spring? It could be time to try baba ganoush – especially because it’s so easy to make.
Grill your aubergine until the skin is charred and the flesh tender – peel and discard the skin, and chop or blend the rest. Mix with tahini, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and chilli powder, if you want a kick, and you’ve got an impressive dip for pita or crudités.
2. On the braai
Aubergines and the smoky flavour created by braaing are a match made in heaven. Long gone are the days when we’d slap some boerewors on the grill and hope for the best – now, it’s all about having a rounded offering, with veggie dishes sitting alongside carnivore meals.
Either cut your aubergines in half lengthways, or cut them into slices or cubes and brush with a bit of oil, and place on the braai. Serve drizzled with your favourite sauces, as part of a kebab, or in a salad or burger.
3. Slathered in miso
Aubergines soak up flavour like a sponge, and they pair beautifully with the umami nuttiness of miso. This is a quick, easy and healthy midweek meal: all you have to do is half an aubergine lengthways, score the flesh and brush on a miso glaze (you can whip one up by simply loosening miso with a bit of water, or have more fun with flavour by mixing it with rice wine vinegar and sesame oil).
Bake in the oven – and when the aubergine is nice and tender, you’re good to go.
4. In moussaka
Bring a bit of sunshine to your plate with this classic Greek dish. Traditionally, moussaka is made of layers of potato, lamb mince and soft, sweet aubergines in a tomato-based sauce, baked with bechamel on top.
You can customise it to your taste (for example, swop lamb with lentils for a vegetarian version), but aubergines are always the star of the show.
5. Breaded and fried
This might not be the healthiest option out there, but there’s nothing wrong with indulgence every so often. Cut aubergines into slices, dip these in egg wash, cover in breadcrumbs and fry. Crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside – you won’t believe how aubergines can be transformed.
Serve thin slices with aioli as a snack, or slice thicker so they can take the place of a meat patty in a burger.