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When it comes to roasting eggplant, many of the best tips and techniques come down to how the eggplant should be prepared and how long it should be roasted. Since the skin of an eggplant can be fairly tough and unpleasant to eat, it is often best to peel off all or most of skin prior to slicing or dicing the eggplant. Depending on how an eggplant is going to be roasted, pieces of eggplant should often be salted to remove the juices of the eggplant, which can be quite bitter. There are also methods for roasting eggplant whole, which can be quite simple and produce delicious results.
Roasting eggplant is a common preparatory step for a number of dishes, though it can also be roasted and eaten without further processing. Depending on how someone is planning on roasting eggplant, the skin should often be considered first. For many people, eggplant skin is tough and lacks the warm flavors found in the flesh. Preparations in which the eggplant is going to be sliced or cubed prior to roasting should often begin with the eggplant being peeled. Since the peel contains a great deal of nutritional value, however, some people prefer to only peel part of the eggplant, leaving a striped pattern of peeled and unpeeled sections.
Someone roasting eggplant slices or cubes should consider salting and draining the eggplant. Cubes can be set in a colander over a sink, thoroughly salted, and allowed to drain. Long slices of eggplant can be arranged on a paper towel-covered baking sheet, salted, covered with more paper towels, and then covered with another baking sheet pressed down on them with a weight such as a brick or large can of food. The salt draws out moisture in the eggplant, which can be bitter, though it should be thoroughly washed off and squeezed dry prior to roasting.
Roasting eggplant whole can be quite easy and produces a result that is wonderful for use in salads or by itself. The eggplant should be left with the skin still on and punctured numerous times with a knife or a skewer; this allows steam and moisture to escape during baking. Once punctured, the eggplant can be placed on a baking sheet and roasted in an oven at high heat for almost an hour or until the flesh is very soft. The eggplant can then be cut open and the flesh scooped out for eating. For a quicker roasted eggplant without having to puncture the skin, cut the eggplant in half or wedges and brush the flesh with oil and salt and pepper before sticking it in the oven.
I'd rather roast eggplant in slices, unless I need to cube it for the recipe. I also scrape some seeds, if the eggplant is a large one.
Roasting eggplant is really like roasting any other vegetable, once you have it prepared. Place a sheet of aluminum foil on a cookie sheet. Place the slices of eggplant on it. Season with black pepper (no salt if you salted them to get the juice out), drizzle with olive oil and roast at 350 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes. That's it.
I like to use eggplant slices with tomato and onion as a ratatouille.
I have found that using smaller eggplants means they have fewer seeds, which is always a good thing. If I have a large eggplant and plan to roast the halves, I'll get a spoon and scrape out some of the seeds.
If I'm making something like eggplant parmesan, I always peel the skin off, slice it long ways and do the salt and weight procedure. I don't "squeeze" the slices, but I do rinse the salt off. I find that roasting the eggplant slices with panko crumbs before using them in parmesan is easier than frying, and much lower in fat. And using panko crumbs helps keep the slices crisp in the dish. They don't get as soggy.
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