Learn the best way to make sauteed eggplant on the stove in under 20 minutes. Enjoy a tender and delicious eggplant side dish topped with a garlic and fresh parsley-infused oil. It’s definitely a crowdpleaser eggplant recipe that’s vegan, keto-friendly, and paleo!
Eggplants are among my favorite vegetables as they are super low in calories and low in carbs. You can cook them in various delicious ways, and they can be included in so many vegetarian and healthy meals.
It is super easy to make, just like our easy fried cabbage recipe!
The best part? Eggplants can be found at the store year-round, and they’re in season in late summer. I had always made eggplant pizza when I wanted to cook something easy and delicious, but lately I discovered that cooking eggplant on the stovetop is a fabulous side dish.
What’s more, the versatility of eggplants is impressive—you can roast, sauté, bake, or grill them, and each method brings out a unique and delightful flavor.
One of the things I adore about eggplants is their year-round availability in grocery stores. Plus, they’re at their peak in late summer, meaning you can enjoy them fresh during that season. No matter how you decide to cook your eggplants, one thing’s for sure: they readily soak up whatever seasonings you pair them with, making them an incredibly flavorful ingredient.
Take these eggplants sauteed in olive oil, for example. They’re aromatic, flavorful, and a breeze to prepare. Whether you serve them hot or cold, they’re a versatile side dish that complements many main courses.
What Are Eggplants?
Eggplant is a plant grown for its white or purple fruit, cultivated in South and East Asia countries since prehistoric times, but known to the Western world only 1500 years ago. Many people wonder if an eggplant is a fruit or vegetable; however, it is classified as a vegetable from a culinary point of view. Therefore, many will answer a question of interest will depend on the context.
Why Are You Going To Love This Sauteed Eggplant Recipe
- Cooking eggplant in a pan is easy to make and loaded with flavor
- Tender in the middle and coated with a delicious garlic and parsley oil
- Vegan, keto, and gluten-free recipe
- Ready in less than 20 minutes
- Pairs perfectly with other main dishes
Ingredients For Pan Fried Eggplant
This recipe for sauteed eggplant is super easy and needs only four ingredients. I’m sure you already have most of them in your pantry.
- Eggplant – I recommend using young eggplants that look firm and glossy. You can use any eggplant variety and slice the eggplant into equal slices to ensure even cooking. When sautéed, eggplant becomes soft and tender, with a subtle, creamy interior and slightly crispy exterior.
- Garlic Powder – this ingredient pairs perfectly with eggplants.
- Garlic Cloves – for the sauce.
- Salt & Pepper – to taste.
- Olive oil – Used for sautéing and as a base for the garlic sauce. Helps caramelize the eggplant slices, offering a rich and smooth mouthfeel to the dish.
How To Cut Eggplant for Frying?
Cutting the eggplant into round slices is my favorite way, but here a some of the other best options:
- Lengthwise Slices: Start by cutting the eggplant lengthwise into long slices. This will give you larger pieces to work with.
- Strips: Take the lengthwise slices and cut them into thinner strips. This will make the eggplant easier to handle and cook more evenly.
- Cubes: If you prefer smaller, bite-sized pieces, further cut the strips into cubes. These little cubes will be perfect for frying and create a deliciously crispy texture.
- Wedges: If you’re in the mood for grilling, consider cutting the eggplant into wedges instead of strips. Wedges work wonderfully on the grill, giving you a slightly different cooking experience and adding a touch of smoky flavor.
Do You Peel Eggplant Before Frying?
No, there’s no need to peel the eggplant before sauteeing, as the skin is edible. Although the skin of larger eggplant can be slightly tougher
How To Make Sauteed Eggplant
Our easy sautéed eggplant recipe will teach you a quick and simple method for cooking eggplant that you’re sure to love.
Preparing the Eggplants:
Clean the eggplants by rinsing them under water. Cut off the top leafy ends.
Slice the eggplants into 1/4-inch-thick rounds.
Pat the slices dry using paper towels. This step is essential as it ensures even cooking and browning.
Cooking the Eggplants:
Heat a large skillet over medium flame. Add a portion of the olive oil.
Once the oil is shimmering, place the eggplant slices in a single layer, ensuring not to overcrowd the skillet.
Sauté each slice for about 4-5 minutes on each side until they’re tender, beautifully caramelized, and have a golden hue.
Continue sautéing the eggplant slices in batches. Add more oil as necessary for each batch.
Prepping the Garlic Sauce:
In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, minced garlic, chopped parsley, lemon zest, chili flakes, salt, and pepper.
Once mixed well, refrigerate the sauce to allow the flavors to meld while preparing the eggplants.
Arrange the sautéed eggplants on a serving dish.
Drizzle generously with the chilled zesty garlic sauce.
Optional: Garnish with extra parsley or lemon zest for a pop of color and added zest!
How To Choose The Perfect Eggplant
When it comes to picking the perfect eggplant, consider the following guidelines:
- Smooth and Shiny Skin: Opt for eggplants that have smooth and glossy skin, free from any blemishes or discoloration. This indicates freshness and a healthy vegetable.
- Firm Texture: Choose medium-sized eggplants that feel firm to the touch. Avoid those with soft spots or areas that give in when lightly pressed.
- Size Matters: While size preferences may vary, smaller eggplants tend to be less bitter. If bitterness is a concern, you can further mitigate it by lightly salting the eggplant and rinsing it before cooking. Additionally, smaller varieties typically have fewer seeds, although the seeds are generally edible.
By following these tips, you’ll increase your chances of selecting an eggplant that is both visually appealing and delicious for your culinary endeavors.
Tips For Making The Perfect Sauteed Eggplant
- Pre-salt your eggplant: This technique not only reduces the vegetable’s natural bitterness, but also enhances its unique flavor. Sprinkle salt over your sliced eggplant and let it rest for about 30 minutes to draw out moisture, a process often referred to as “sweating.”
- Opt for young eggplants: Younger eggplants have thinner, softer skins that you don’t need to peel. Keeping the skin intact during cooking helps maintain the eggplant’s structure and prevents it from becoming overly soft.
- Slice the eggplant properly: Aim for slices approximately 1/4 inch thick. These will cook swiftly while minimizing oil absorption, leading to perfectly cooked eggplant slices that are crispy on the outside and tender inside.
- Add herbs and spices: Don’t shy away from incorporating aromatic herbs and spices, such as garlic, basil, oregano, and paprika. They can significantly enhance the flavor of your dish. A splash of lemon juice just before serving can elevate the eggplant’s zestiness.
- Take your time when sautéing: Allow each slice of eggplant to brown properly on both sides. This process, often referred to as caramelization, creates a deeper, more complex flavor profile that is well worth the extra cooking time.
Can You Make Pan Fried In Advance?
If you’re planning ahead, here’s what you can do: wash the eggplants and slice them into rounds in advance. Then, store these prepped slices in an airtight container in your fridge. This way, you’ve done most of the work, and then you can simply sauté them about an hour before you’re ready to serve.
However, keep in mind that the freshness and unique texture of freshly cooked, sautéed eggplant are part of what makes this dish truly delightful. If possible, try cooking eggplant on the stovetop as close to mealtime as possible for the best experience.
How To Serve Sauteed Eggplant
Since I am an eggplant pan, I like eating roasted eggplant straight from the pan, but this side dish can also be served with many dishes like:
- Chicken: Sauteed eggplant harmonizes beautifully with a variety of chicken dishes. Try it alongside Air Fryer Chicken Thighs, a classic Chicken Parmesan, or a hearty Spinach Stuffed Chicken. You’ll find the flavors complement each other perfectly.
- Salmon: The mild flavor and buttery texture of salmon make it a stellar companion for sautéed eggplant. Consider serving it with Cream Cheese Salmon, Honey Mustard Salmon In Foil for a luxurious meal, or with Pan Seared Cajun Salmon for a spicy kick.
- Sandwiches and Burgers: Don’t limit sautéed eggplant to just being a side dish—it makes a wonderful filling for sandwiches and burgers too! Layer it between your favorite bread or buns for a veggie-packed meal.
- Fridge: Store the leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge for up to three days.
Can You Freeze Eggplant?
Absolutely, freezing cooked eggplant slices is entirely feasible. When stored correctly, they can retain their quality for up to a year. To ensure the best texture and flavor upon reuse:
- Cool Down: Before freezing, ensure the eggplant slices have cooled to room temperature. This prevents the formation of ice crystals, which can affect the texture.
- Parchment Paper Layers: Arrange the slices in single layers, separated by sheets of parchment paper. This prevents the slices from sticking together and makes it easy to retrieve individual pieces later on.
- Air-tight Storage: Use a vacuum-sealed bag or a freezer-safe container with a tight-fitting lid. This not only saves space but also protects the eggplant slices from freezer burn and preserves their flavor.
- Label and Date: Mark the date of freezing on the bag or container. While the slices can be stored for up to a year, using them within six months will ensure optimal taste and texture.
- Thawing and Reheating: When you’re ready to use the slices, it’s recommended to thaw them overnight in the refrigerator to maintain their integrity. For a quick and even reheating process, consider using an oven or toaster oven, which will also help in retaining their crispness.
How to Reheat?
If you’re looking to regain that fresh-off-the-stove taste, you can warm your eggplant on the stovetop for a few minutes. Alternatively, for a quicker reheat, the microwave is a good option – just remember to use a microwave-safe dish and cover it to avoid splatters.
However, don’t forget the surprising delight that is cold sautéed eggplant! It maintains its flavor remarkably well and can be a refreshing addition to salads or sandwiches. So whether you prefer it reheated or cold, leftover sautéed eggplant can be just as delicious the next day!
Are Eggplants Keto-Friendly?
Sure, eggplant is a keto-friendly vegetable. According to the USDA website, one cup of eggplant provides only 2.88 grams of net carbs. But you need to know that not all eggplant dishes will fit into your macros, but you can easily switch any recipe to fit your low carb needs with a few simple changes, and then enjoy eggplant on keto.
What Does An Eggplant Taste Like?
While the different varieties vary somewhat in taste and texture, they are usually described as having a spongy, soft texture and a pleasant but slightly bitter taste. In many recipes, eggplant is used as a complementary ingredient, which gives texture, volume, and flavor.
Are Eggplants Healthy?
- Due to its high antioxidant content, some studies suggest that eggplant may help reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Eggplant has several important phytonutrients that help increase blood flow and nourish the brain. However, keep in mind that these nutrients are found in higher concentrations in the eggplant peel, so don’t throw them away.
- Eggplants are also recommended in the diet because they are low in calories. A single eggplant contains 35 calories and does not contain fat but has a high fiber content that helps you get full quickly without eating much.
Looking For More Healthy Eggplant Recipes? Try These:
Sauteed Eggplant Recipe
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1/4 tsp chili flakes
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the garlic sauce, and refrigerate until the eggplants are cooked.
- Wash the eggplant and cut off the leafy end. Slice the eggplant into 1/4 inch thick circles. Pat dry the slices using paper towels.
- Season the eggplant slices with garlic powder, salt, and pepper on both sides.
- Place a large skillet over medium heat and add olive oil. Add the eggplant slices in a single layer. Work in batches to sautee eggplant for about 4-5 minutes on each side or until softened and caramelized.
- Repeat the process with all the eggplant slices, adding more oil or butter as needed.
- Transfer the sauteed eggplants to a serving plate and generously drizzle with garlic sauce.
How do we calculate the nutrition info?
These nutrition facts listed are determined using nutrition information from the USDA Food Database. Our nutrition facts are accurate, but if you are using different products, please make your calculations. Net carb count is calculated by subtracting both fiber and sugar alcohols because they don’t raise blood sugar.