Eggplant – a vegetable or fruit?

On ABC NSW radio

EGGPLANT – a vegetable or fruit


  • Eggplants, like tomatoes, are thought of as a vegetable, but are technically a fruit.
  • Eggplants, also known as aubergine or brinjal (Solanum melongena) are a member of the nightshade family and are related to potatoes and tomatoes.

Buying & storing

  • Choose eggplants with firm flesh with a bright, shiny skin that is not wrinkled or with brown patches.
  • Heavy for their size.
  • Eggplants have a relatively short shelf life so preferably buy on the day of use or store in the veggie drawer in the fridge for up to five days.

Preparation & cooking tips

  • Wash and remove the stem and calyx (the green leafy top). Halve, slice or chop before cooking.
  • It is best to cut eggplants just before using as the flesh oxidises quickly, changing its colour to brown.
  • Lightly brush eggplant slices with oil and grill rather than panfrying for a less oily taste and texture.
  • Sliced or diced eggplant pan fried at a lower temperature will require less oil than cooking over a high heat.
  • Older eggplants tend to get bitter. To remove this bitterness, slice or dice the eggplant and sprinkle with salt. Set aside for 20 to 30 minutes in a colander or on paper towel to extract the bitter juices, then rinse in cold water and pat dry with paper towel. There is no need to salt baby or finger eggplants.


Roast, grill, barbecue or chargrill, shallow or deep fry, saute, stew or bake until golden.

Some simple serving suggestions:

  • serve roasted eggplant drizzled with a garlic, oil and lemon dressing.
  • cut Lebanese or baby eggplants in half, cut the flesh in a diamond pattern without cutting through the skin, drizzle with oil and breadcrumbs seasoned with herbs and bake until tender.


There are many famous dishes which feature eggplant:

  • Greek moussaka
  • Turkish imam bayildi (stuffed eggplant)
  • French dish, ratatouille
  • Eggplant Parmigiana – 1/2” slices, grilled, layered in a thick tomato basil sauce with parmesan and/or mozzarella. Sprinkle top with buttered breadcrumbs and baked in hot oven 190ºC for 30-35 minutes.
  • Dips – eg. baba ghanoush – bake or chargrill whole eggplant & garlic cloves. Scoop out eggplant flesh and squeeze out garlic flesh, coarsely mash with a fork and combine with lemon juice, tahini, extra virgin olive oil, salt & pepper, to taste (see recipe below).
  • Curry – eg. Thai red pumpkin & eggplant curry with coriander
  • Lasagna – layer cooked eggplant slices with left over spaghetti bolognese.
  • Salads – eg. Warm eggplant and chickpea; marinated feta, capsicum and eggplant
  • Eggplant & zucchini veal rolls stuffed with ricotta
  • Zucchini & eggplant gratin – pan fry sliced eggplant and zucchini and layer with mozzarella/goats cheese and tomato pasta sauce. Grill or bake 20 minutes at 200ºC until golden and heated through.
  • Barbecued eggplant, haloumi and zucchini stack drizzled with roast capsicum sauce.
  • Pizza
  • Cumin crumbed eggplant with humus – Dust eggplant slices in plain flour seasoned with salt, pepper and ground cumin, dip in lightly beaten egg then breadcrumbs. Deep or shallow fry until golden. Serve with a dollop of humus and fresh coriander leaves.


Bake or chargrill whole or cut in half



Roasted Eggplant Dip

Ingredients (serves 6-8)

1 large (700g) eggplant

2-3 garlic cloves, skin on

2-3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste)

1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 green onions, finely chopped

1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley, to garnish

Generous pinch paprika, to serve (optional)


  • Preheat oven to 200°C.
  • Place eggplant and garlic on baking tray lined with baking paper.
  • Cook for 35 to 40 minutes or until eggplant is soft. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes.
  • Cut eggplant in half lengthways. Using a metal spoon, scoop out flesh and coarsely mash or chop.
  • Squeeze flesh from garlic into a small bowl. Add 2 tablespoons lemon juice, tahini, 1 tablespoon oil and salt and pepper. Mash with a fork until well combined. Stir into eggplant and add green onion. Taste and add extra lemon juice, if preferred. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • Spoon dip into a bowl. Sprinkle with parsley and paprika with a drizzle of remaining oil, to serve.



Posted on April 20, 2010 at 11:24 pm by Brigid · Permalink
In: Cooking Tips & Hints, Radio, Vegetables · Tagged with: , , , ,

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