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Always wondered what to do with those strange purple, oval vegetables? Roasted aubergine makes a perfect side dish. Or you can add some extra flavours and sauces to make it the main event. Read on to find out how to roast aubergine, some ideas for how to serve it and other great aubergine recipe ideas.
What are aubergines?
Firstly, you may know an aubergine by another name. In the US, Australia and some other places, they are commonly referred to as eggplants. Whereas in most of Western Europe the name aubergine is standard. In parts of Asia, they are also called brinjal.
Aubergines are a member of the nightshade family, along with tomatoes, peppers and potatoes. Most people don’t realise that they are technically a fruit as they are typically prepared and eaten in the same manner as a vegetable.
Aubergines originate from West and South Asia and most of the aubergines produced come from China or India. They have a very mild taste and a spongy texture making them highly versatile.
Are aubergines good for you?
Although not as nutritionally dense as some other vegetables, aubergines are a great source of potassium, vitamin C and some other essential vitamins. They are also found to contain some antioxidants as an added bonus!
100g of aubergine only contains 25 calories and less than 1g fat – so you can also eat it guilt-free!
Many people believe that aubergines are bad for you. This is because they contain an alkaloid called solanine. This acts as pest control for the plant and helps protect it while growing. While ingesting enough of this could definitely make you sick, the amount found in aubergines is small and you would need to eat over 15 large aubergines in one sitting before getting even mild side effects.
What is the best way to cook aubergines?
Personally, I think roasting aubergines is the best way to cook them. They become very soft when cooked so roasting helps to preserve a little shape and texture without turning it into mush.
You can also grill aubergines, bake them in a casserole, fry them in some oil or simmer them in a curry or chilli. They are fairly mild tasting so won’t overpower any dish they are served with or added to. However, they are a little bland on their own so I like to serve them with a little sauce on top or roasted with other vegetables for variety.
A good recipe idea (pictured below) is to pair aubergine with a tomato-based sauce, a scattering of thyme and some parmesan grated over the top.
Some other great uses for aubergines are:
- Aubergine and chickpea curry
- Moutabal (an Arabic aubergine dip)
- Mediterranean roasted vegetables – using a medley of different veg
- Lamb mince stuffed aubergine
Do I need to peel them?
Aubergines don’t need to be peeled unless you don’t particularly like the skin. Not peeling them also helps them keep their shape during cooking.
An exception to this would be if you have particularly aged aubergines (typically larger ones). The skin can become a little tough over time so in that instance, peeling may be a good idea.
How do I prepare aubergines for roasting?
Aubergines are super simple to roast and you only need a few basic ingredients to hand:
If you are roasting aubergine halves (as pictured) then use a knife to score lines length and widthways into the aubergine – around 1cm deep. If you are slicing the aubergine then cut it into slices either along the length or the width.
Lay the aubergine pieces on a baking tray covered with baking/parchment paper. Drizzle a little olive oil over the top and then scatter over some salt and black pepper.
How long do I need to roast them?
How long you need to roast aubergines depends on the heat of the oven and the size of the slices. In general, roasting is done at high heat, while cooking at a lower heat would be baking. A temperature of 200C/400F is perfect for roasting.
If you are roasting full halves then around 40 minutes will give you good results (unless your aubergines are particularly small). If you have cut the aubergine into slices then they may only need 20 minutes. A full aubergine may take up to an hour.
Do I need to salt them first?
Salting aubergines before cooking is a tradition that originates from times when aubergines were more bitter and therefore this was used to help reduce their bitter flavour.
Many people still salt their aubergines to get rid of excess water. As aubergines are 90% water anyway, I don’t find that this makes a huge amount of difference.
If you do want to salt yours then lay them on some paper towel and sprinkle salt over the top. Leave for 5-10 minutes and then press some more paper towel over them to remove extracted liquid.
Can I make them in advance?
Roasted aubergine is best when served freshly roasted. The more you cook it the softer it will become. However, you can absolutely reheat pre-cooked aubergine. Keep cooked aubergine in the fridge for up to 3 days and reheat in the oven for best results. You can also eat pre-roasted aubergine cold – it’s perfect tossed in a salad.
As aubergine is around 90% water, freezing is not recommended as it will be very mushy once defrosted!
Looking for more great roasted veg recipes? Try:
- Roasted courgette
- Roasted tenderstem broccoli
- Balsamic Mediterranean vegetables
- Roasted leeks and tomatoes
Products that work well for this recipe:
Dawsons Living 2 Piece Traybake and Roaster Set
Magnetic Spice Rack – Set of 12
Beeswax Food Wraps
Roasted aubergine is easy, simple and healthy. It makes a perfect side dish or you can transform it into the main event by adding extra sauces and flavours.
The default recipe serves 2 as a side dish.
- 1 large aubergine/eggplant (around 300g / 10oz)
- 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper, a pinch of each
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.
- Slice the aubergine in half and score the flesh in the middle of each half across the width and length – around 1 cm deep. (see note 1)
- Lay the aubergines on a baking tray lined with baking paper, cut side up.
- Drizzle the olive oil over the aubergine and then scatter over the salt and pepper.
- Roast in the oven for around 40 minutes, checking regularly to make sure it doesn’t burn.
- If you prefer to slice the aubergine into long pieces or rounds then the cooking time will need to be reduced. Small disc-shaped rounds may only take around 20 minutes in the oven.
- Leftovers can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days and reheated in the oven. It’s also delicious served cold.
- Freezing is not advised
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Category: Side
- Method: Roast
- Cuisine: British
- Serving Size: 1
- Calories: 45
- Fat: 3g
- Carbohydrates: 3g
- Protein: 1g
Keywords: aubergine, eggplant, vegetables, fruit, vegetarian, vegan, side dish, dinner, roasted