Eggplant’s short season has begun. Here’s how to make the best of it.

Eggplant timbale for Evan Kleiman's Cucina Italiana column, photographed in 2018.
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

8 of our best eggplant recipes as local harvesting gets underway


If you like to buy locally grown produce, you should know that eggplant season here in Southern California runs from July through September. And If you’re as much of an eggplant fan as I am, you likely have an arsenal of eggplant recipes at the ready, as do I.

The Times has published dozens of eggplant recipes over the years, as well as almost as many articles about this fruit of many preparations. From Joan Drake’s obscure eggplant facts and practical preparation essentials to Russ Parsons’ Eggplant: To salt or not to salt?, there is no lack of information on how to choose, store and prepare eggplant. If you and eggplant are old friends and all you seek are a few new ideas for incorporating it into a meal, scroll down for some of our most popular eggplant recipes ever posted.

Baba ganouj was the inspiration behind chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s vegan Smoky Eggplant Dip With Ginger And Tomato Chutney. The smokiness comes from roasting the eggplant over an open flame until the skin is charred and the eggplants “collapse.” (If you don’t have a grill, do it directly over a burner of your gas stove or broil in the oven.) Freshly grated ginger, a spiced and tangy tomato chutney and a coconut yogurt create complex layers of flavor.


Brandon Jew’s Taiwanese-Style Eggplant uses three techniques — brining, deep frying and stir-frying — to elicit plump, creamy wedges of eggplant that then get tossed with a sweet-smoky sauce and topped with crispy garlic, chile rings and Thai basil.

The cheat in Susan Vu’s Roasted Eggplant With Cheater Sichuan-Style Pork is using ground pork rather than preparing and then slicing or shredding pork hind leg or belly, which are typically used in this preparation. Roasting the eggplant halves leaves them with a creamy center, while chile crisp and mushroom-flavored soy sauce add umami. Perfect for a weeknight meal, the dish comes together in about 45 minutes.

Evan Kleiman’s Eggplant Timbale is one of my favorite recipes in our database. It is a bit of a project, not hard, just several steps: making the sauce, salting (see above) and then frying the eggplant and, finally, assembling the timbale and baking it. The result is a stunning presentation of what tastes similar to a “light” (and gluten-free) eggplant Parmesan. Trust me, it is much easier to make than it appears and well worth every bit of the effort.


Made in individual portions, Regina Schrambling’s Zucchini-Eggplant-Pepper Timbales make a spectacular presentation of the ratatouille three: zucchini, eggplant and bell peppers. Grilled rather than stewed, the vegetables retain their shape and take on an irresistible, smoky undertone. A cheesy custard binds the layers of purple, green and red and is light enough to let the pure, summery vegetable flavor come through. This is definitely dinner party comfort food.

Eggplant Osso Buco, Mushroom Bolognese, Rustic Polenta from Bella Vista at the Four Seasons Resort the Biltmore Santa Barbara is a terrific project for experimenting with sous vide — that increasingly popular method of cooking by vacuum-sealing and then immersing in a bath of temperature-controlled warm water. The technique is pretty straightforward and you don’t need any special equipment for this recipe. If you want to invest less time, feel free to use a good-quality, store-bought sauce.

Eggplant takes well to well to cumin, oregano and cilantro, as do some of its culinary besties — zucchini and bell peppers, as demonstrated in Regina Schrambling’s Eggplant-Zucchini-Pepper Enchiladas, which are filled with a sauté of the three vegetables, diced small and finished with an ancho chile sauce. They make for a great vegetarian meal.


Sliced thin and roasted, eggplant adds a crispy dimension to Russ Parsons’ adaptation of this Rice Bowl With Cauliflower, Zucchini and Eggplant from Squirl chef-owner Jessica Koslow. Inspired by the clean flavors of the traditional Japanese donburi (literally “bowl”), a dish of vegetables, meat, fish, nori and spices served over white rice, Koslow adds a decidedly California twist by mixing complex textures and tastes, which include yuzu juice, sumac, tahini, basil and mint.

Smoky Eggplant Dip With Ginger and Tomato Chutney

Grated, raw ginger adds a fresh, surprising heat to this baba ghanouj-inspired smoky eggplant dip. A tomato chutney adds richness and coconut yogurt adds creaminess.
Time 30 minutes
Yields Makes 3 cups

Taiwanese-Style Eggplant

Three techniques — brining, deep-frying and stir-frying — create a luscious texture in this classic eggplant preparation.
Time 25 minutes, plus 1 hour brining
Yields Serves 4

Roasted Eggplant With Cheater Sichuan-Style Pork

Deeply flavorful pork is cooked until caramelized then spooned over tender roasted eggplant in this simple weeknight meal.
Time 45 minutes
Yields Serves 4

Eggplant timbale

This eggplant cake-like creation has just enough cheese to add umami without being heavy. The sweet-acid tomato sauce balances the rich, fried eggplant.
Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Yields Serves 6 to 8

Zucchini-eggplant-pepper timbales

These timbales make a spectacular presentation of zucchini, eggplant and bell peppers. Grilling gives them an irresistibly smoky undertone. A cheesy custard binds the layers.
Time 1 hour
Yields Serves 4

Eggplant Osso Buco, Mushroom Bolognese, Rustic Polenta

Seasoned, seared eggplant "steaks" (studded with hearts of palm ) are plated over a rustic polenta, topped with a rich mushroom Bolognese sauce and served with broccolini.
Time 2 hours 20 minutes
Yields Serves 4

Eggplant-zucchini-pepper enchiladas

A saute of eggplant, zucchini and bell peppers diced small makes an excellent filling for an enchilada. A fruity, mildly piquant ancho chile sauce brings it all together.
Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Yields Serves 4 to 6

Rice bowl with cauliflower, zucchini and eggplant

The rice bowl was inspired by both the traditional Japanese donburi dish (some kind of rice, some fish, some nori, all really clean flavors) and an L.A. twist of tastes and textures.
Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Yields Serves 4 to 6