It’s the simple recipes with the fresh ingredients that I love the most, like this Sauteed Eggplant Salad Recipe. Tender garlicky eggplant with red peppers and fresh parsley is just the delicious combo that has me coming back for more. This easy sautéed eggplant recipe takes just 20 minutes to make and makes a perfect side dish or simple lunch.
Cooking eggplant with simple ingredients on the stovetop is super easy with this tasty sauteed eggplant recipe. Using fresh eggplant as the main ingredient, you can also roast or even grill them to make a healthy eggplant side dish that everyone will adore. If you have an abundance of eggplant, here are a few more easy eggplant recipes:
- Mediterranean Roasted Eggplant turns eggplant slices and fresh herbs into a healthy side dish without a lot of oil.
- Grilled Ratatouille Salad is one of my favorite ways to use fresh summer veggies, and it won’t heat up your house!
- Baba Ghanoush is a delicious addition to your summer dip repertoire. It’s a combo of sauteed vegetables plus whole roasted eggplant….and this easy recipe is the best eggplant dip out there. Serve with pita bread and falafel balls for a delicious summer main course
Why you’ll love this Sauteed Eggplant Salad:
- Quick and Easy: 20 minutes, start to finish.
- One Pan: Easy clean up
- Simple and flavorful: The garlic and cumin are all you need to bring out the natural flavors of the fresh vegetables and herbs.
- Healthy Side Dish that everyone will love.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Eggplant: This recipe would also work well with zucchini or yellow summer squash….those would take about half the cooking time. See below for the type of eggplant that works best in this recipe.
- Fresh parsley: I like copious amounts of fresh herbs in this dish…substitute with fresh oregano, basil or thyme…lots of it!
- Red pepper: Bell peppers are in season at the same time as fresh eggplant, and you can use whatever color you have.
- Garlic: Fresh garlic offers the most robust flavor. You can use garlic powder in a pinch, but not garlic salt.
- Olive oil: Dole it out, a bit at a time because the eggplant is like a sponge and will soak up however much you use!
- Spices: Cumin imparts just a bit of a smoky flavor, and just a bit of salt intensifies the fresh flavor.
You can find many of these types of eggplants at your local farmers markets, ethnic grocery stores or look for local grown produce at your favorite supermarket. Any of the varieties of eggplant listed below will work well in this recipe.
- Asian eggplants refers to similar, but different types of eggplant.
- Japanese eggplant is long and thin with a deep purple color. These have a thinner outer skin and generally cook quickly, so if you use this type of eggplant, reduce the cooking time in half.
- The Chinese eggplant has less seeds and is therefor less bitter in taste than the American globe eggplant and lends itself well to stir-fried eggplant or this sauteed eggplant recipe. They are generally slender, long and have a medium hued purple skin with a creamy white flesh. They also will take less time to cook.
- Italian eggplants are very similar to the American Globe Eggplant, but they’re generally small eggplants with a more tender flesh.
- White eggplant: Thought of as the OG eggplants…and most of today’s eggplants that are white are considered heirloom. While the outside skin is white, the inside looks just like traditional purple skinned eggplants and can be used in all the same recipes.
- Globe eggplants: Also known as American eggplants, these hold their shape well, and have a meatier texture. They’re great for roasting in slices, deep frying, making air fryer eggplant, and also for sauteeing until a soft texture emerges.
How to make Eggplant Salad
This sauteed eggplant salad doesn’t take long to make on the stovetop, so it’s best to prep all the vegetables before you begin.
Separate the parsley leaves from the stems. Roughly chop the leaves and set aside.
Smash the garlic cloves by pressing down with a chef’s knife. Peel off the papery skins and then roughly chop.
How to Cut Eggplant into cubes
Cut off the top and tail of the eggplant. Place cut side down on the cutting board and then make ½″ vertical cuts all the way through.
Now cut into long vertical strips that are ½″ thick.
Next, cut across so that ½″ cubes are formed.
Continue in the same way with the second eggplant. You will have about 8 cups of eggplant cubes.
How to Saute Eggplant
Eggplant is like a sponge when it comes to liquid, like oil. That is why I like to drizzle on the oil in phases. It helps prevent sticking every step of the way. It also helps to use a well seasoned cast iron skillet.
Heat a cast iron or other heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Swirl in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and add the cubed eggplant. Cook, stirring for 3-4 minutes.
Add the red peppers, cumin, salt and the last tablespoon of the olive oil. Stir well. Continue to cook until tender, about 6-8 minutes. The entire mixture will shrink to about ⅓ of the original.
Sprinkle on ¼ cup of the chopped parsley and all of the garlic. Cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Give another stir and make sure any larger pieces of eggplant are tender.
Turn off heat. Sprinkle on remaining ¼ cup parsley and mix well. Transfer to a serving dish and serve warm or at room temperature.
Honestly, this sauteed eggplant salad is perfection. Period. End of story…but if you’d like to embellish, I say go for it!
- Personal favorite: Chopped olives and/or capers taste amazing in this recipe and give off a Mediterranean vibe. Hubby doesn’t like either, so I often don’t do it.
- Nuts and seeds : really, adding any nut or seed in any form will add some protein and crunch…pine nuts and chopped almonds are my favorites. Sesame seeds are a great idea, but I think they give off more of an Asian flavor vibe.
- Acid: Fresh tomatoes add an acidic component that’s super nice. Cherry tomatoes cut in half work really well. You can get that touch of acid from a splash of balsamic vinegar or lemon juice as well.
- Spicy Sauteed Eggplant: A sprinkle of red pepper flakes when you add the cumin is the best way to spice up these sauteed vegetables.
How to serve this eggplant dish
- As a salad: serve cold or at room temperature.
- As a side dish: Serve warm or at room temperature. Would go well with tofu satay, or baked falafel.
- As a dip or spread. This sauteed eggplant tastes great spooned on top of a quick and easy flatbread, or slather spoonfuls onto some crusty bread and served as an eggplant bruschetta, or add to a crudites board with some crackers.
How to store
- Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Reheat in a 300 degree oven for 10 minutes or on the stove until just heated through.
- Leftovers can also be eaten cold or at room temperature.
- Freezing will change the texture of the eggplant. I do not recommend freezing.
Debra’s Pro Tips
- If your eggplants are large and you get significantly more than 8 cups of cubed eggplant, you will need a bit more oil, cumin and salt
- Use your largest frying pan. The eggplant will shrink as it cooks, but it’s a lot at the beginning.
- Do not add water to the pan if it becomes dry. The eggplant will soak it up and become rubbery. Add the oil in phases as suggested above and stir frequently to keep the eggplant cubes from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Cooked eggplant, that’s allowed to cool completely before storing in an airtight container in the refrigerator will last up to 5 days.
The seeds inside an eggplant can be eaten. As a fresh eggplant gets older, the seeds become more bitter. Smaller eggplants have less seeds and tend to be sweeter.
The best place to store eggplant is in a cool dark place. Without refrigeration they’ll last for 4-5 days. To prolong freshness, place in an unsealed plastic bag, with a paper towel, in the fridge for 1-2 weeks. Once eggplant has dark or soft spots, it’s begun to spoil.
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Sauteed Eggplant Salad
- 2 medium-large eggplants about 8 cups cubed
- 1 red bell pepper
- 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 3 cloves garlic
- ½ cup fresh parsley finely chopped and divided
- Finely chop parsley. Smash garlic cloves and then roughly chop. Set aside prepped garlic and parsley.
- Cut off root end and bottom of eggplant. Set flat on a cutting board on the bottom cut side. Make ½" slices through the top. Lay them flat and cut into ½" strips and then across to make ½" cubes.
- Set heavy skillet over medium heat and swirl in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Toss in the eggplant cubes, then drizzle on another 1 tablespoon oil. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring a couple of times. The pan will seem super full. It's ok and temporary, as the eggplant will shrink as it cooks.
- Meanwhile, dice the red pepper. Add to the pan with the eggplant along with cumin and salt and drizzle the remaining tablespoon olive oil into the pan.
- Cook, stirring frequently to prevent eggplant from sticking to the bottom. Use a heavy spatula to scrape any bits off as you cook.
- When eggplant is tender (about 6-8 minutes), sprinkle on ¼ cup of the parsley and all of the garlic. Stir and cook for about 2 minutes, until garlic is fragrant.
- Turn off heat and stir in remaining ¼ cup parsley. Taste for seasoning and add a pinch of red pepper flakes if desired. Transfer to a serving dish and enjoy warm or at room temperature.