This Mediterranean Eggplant Recipe is Summer Side Dish Perfection. Eggplant slices are brushed with fresh herbs and garlic for amazing flavor, baked on a sheet pan topped with the most delicious herby lemon tahini sauce. I could easily eat this as a main course. Period. End of story.
This recipe has been updated from the original published June 4, 2018.
Eggplant lovers…your season is here! If you’re already making baba ganoush (roasted eggplant dip) or ratatouille (you’ll love my grilled version, it makes a great salad)…and looking for another wonderful recipe to enjoy more eggplant…this mediterranean eggplant recipe is the perfect choice!
Tender slices of baked eggplant, infused with a blend of olive oil, fragrant fresh herbs, and zesty lemon bring a burst of Mediterranean flavors to every bite. This easy recipe is a versatile vegan eggplant dish that can be served as a healthy side dish, a tasty appetizer or sprinkle with a few pistachios and serve it as a main dish.
How to Choose an Eggplant
- Eggplant is available all year round in the grocery store. Peak season for eggplants is July through October and that’s when you’ll find them in farmers markets.
- Look for smooth, dark and shiny skin in a dark purple/black color.
- A brownish color on the outside of the eggplant indicates spoilage.
- Eggplant should be heavy
- Flesh should be firm, with a little give but no soft spots.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Eggplant: Large eggplants may give off a bitter taste, choose small-medium eggplants for the best flavor.
- Lemon: Use both the fresh lemon juice, and the lemon zest for the most citrus flavor.
- Fresh herbs: I love the flavor of fresh parsley or oregano in this recipe, fresh basil would also work well.
- Garlic cloves: If you don’t have fresh garlic, use garlic powder, but not garlic salt.
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Spices: I like a little heat, so I use red pepper flakes, but if you’re not a fan of spicy, use freshly ground black pepper along with the cumin and sea salt.
Did you Know?
- Did you know that eggplant is actually classified as a fruit, rather than a vegetable?
- The state of New Jersey produces the most eggplant in the US.
- Eggplants are known for having a unique range of health benefits, derived from their vitamin, antioxidant, mineral and nutrient content and the fact that they contain almost no cholesterol or saturated fat.
- Eggplant has an ability to build strong bones and prevent osteoporosis, reduce the symptoms of anemia and increase cognition.
- It also improves cardiovascular health, protects the digestive system, can reduce stress and protect infants from birth defects.
How to make it
Wash the outside of the eggplants well and pat dry. This is important, since the skin is edible.
Cut the top stem off, then a ⅛″ slice off the bottom and a thin sliver from the side so it will sit flat on a cutting board.
Cut ½″ slices lengthwise in each eggplant. You will have about 6 slices per eggplant.
Lay eggplant slices on their sides and use the tip of the knife to lightly score the flesh in a diagonal pattern. You’ll cut about half way through…just enough to provide a place for the olive oil mixture to soak into.
Measure olive oil into a cup. Use a microplane grater to zest the lemon right over the oil.
Squeeze the lemon into the oil. You will have about the same amount of lemon juice as oil.
Stir in cumin, pepper, salt and finely chopped fresh herbs. Set aside half the marinade to make the tahini sauce.
Lay scored eggplant slices onto parchment lined baking sheet in a single layer. Brush on half of the marinade.
Bake eggplant in preheated 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes, depending on thickness. Ideally, roasted eggplant will be soft, but not mushy.
While the eggplant cooks, add 3 tablespoons tahini to the reserved marinade and mix well. Stir in 1-2 tablespoons water, as needed, for a drippy consistency. Taste. If too tangy, add 1-2 teaspoons maple syrup.
Sprinkle in more fresh herbs, salt, or crushed pepper to taste. Drizzle some over the roasted eggplant slices and place the rest in a small dish.
Debra’s Pro Tips
- Stuff roasted eggplant into pita bread along with some bell peppers and red onion. Throw in some halved cherry tomatoes and drizzle with tahini. Next level summer goodness in every bite.
- Use small eggplant, reduce cooking time to 15 minutes and serve as a super summer vegan appetizer.
- Score the eggplant slices just enough to create nooks and crannies for the marinade to slide into, but not so much that you cut all the way through.
- Fresh lemon juice is great, but if you need to use a bottled juice use ¼ cup.
- For an amazing roasted eggplant salad, chop roasted slices and mix with the tahini. Serve in a large bowl to rave reviews. This is also a good idea to make the next day with leftovers.
How to Store
- Store: Store leftover roasted eggplant separately from the tahini sauce.
- Eggplant will stay good in the fridge in an airtight container for 5 days.
- Tahini sauce can be stored in a jar with lid for up to 2 weeks.
- Freezer: You can store the sauce in the freezer for 3 months. I do not recommend freezing the roasted eggplant, the texture will change and the eggplant will be watery.
- Reheat: Place in a baking dish or on a baking tray in a preheated 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes, until heated through.
Grilled Mediterranean Eggplant
If you’re going to make this on the grill, simply brush a bit of olive oil on the sliced and scored eggplant, grill and then brush half of the marinade over the already cooked eggplant. I would still use the tahini drizzle because…. TAHINI friends. I use tahini for both the nutty flavor and the healthy fats and calcium. It’s so versatile. This is a sweet version with the maple syrup, but tahini is a great base when you need something savory as well.
Large eggplants, and those that are more mature can be more bitter than small to medium sized eggplant. Slicing, salting, rinsing and drying eggplant before cooking draws out the moisture and along with it, some of the bitterness. If your eggplant is fresh, and free from soft spots and not too large, salting is not necessary.
The skin of eggplant is edible. It is also nutritious and will help give the eggplant slices some structure. Be sure to wash the outside of the eggplant well before preparing to cook.
More Summer Recipes
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Mediterranean Roasted Eggplant
- 2 medium sized eggplant
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic grated
- 1 large lemon zested and juiced
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 3 tablespoon tahini
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- Line large rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper.
- Wash eggplants well and pat dry. Cut off stem and ⅛" of bottom end. Cut a small sliver off side of eggplant so it will lay flat on cutting board. Cut lengthwise into ½" oval slices.
- Use the tip of a sharp knife to lightly score the eggplant flesh in a diamond cross-hatch pattern. Be careful not to cut all the way through, but just enough to leave pockets for the marinade.
- Mix olive oil finely chopped fresh oregano, salt, pepper and cumin. Finely grate garlic and lemon zest over mixture and then squeeze in the lemon juice. Mix with a fork until thoroughly combined.
- Place eggplant slices onto prepared baking sheet. Set aside half the marinade to use with the tahini. Brush the remaining olive oil mixture onto the eggplant.
- Bake for about 20 minutes, until tender, but not mushy.
- While eggplant is roasting, combine remaining marinade with the tahini. Mix well, with a fork. Use 1-2 tablespoons water, as needed to create a pourable sauce.
- Transfer hot eggplant to a serving dish. Sprinkle with additional fresh herbs and drizzle with the tahini mixture.