Eggplant in a Sautee

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The eggplant in this recipe is sauteed, turning it from a staple summer vegetable into a quick-to-prepare side dish that complements a wide variety of main courses. Whenever I've wanted to prepare eggplant, I've either roasted it or grilled it, but I recently tried my hand at sautéing it. And I know you'll enjoy it immensely. Compared to baking in the oven, pan frying eggplant results in a deeper caramelization.

These sauteed eggplant slices are just as easy to make as the roasted version, requiring only a few staples from the kitchen. The main difference is that you don't have to wait for the oven to heat up to get started pan frying. (Another quick — and less laborious — option is to use an air fryer to cook the eggplant. )

Can Eggplant Be Sautéed?

Certainly, eggplant can be sautéed. Super simple to make and tastes great Like sautéed zucchini, it browns beautifully for a flavorful and quick side dish.

Here's Why You Should Try This Delicious Eggplant Recipe

  • Flavor that is both savory and sweet.
  • Flaky and caramelized on the edges.
  • All you need is 5 simple ingredients
  • It only takes 20 minutes to prepare.
  • Perfect for a wide variety of meals
Pan fried eggplant on a platter

This section covers the best ingredients to use in the eggplant saute, their respective roles, and possible substitutions. See the recipe card for specific amounts.

  • Pick an eggplant that is firm, has a glossy exterior, and is free of cuts or bruises. For best flavor, prepare it as soon as possible.
  • Using garlic powder in a sauté helps bring out the eggplant's inherent flavor. Fresh minced garlic could be used instead, but it should be added later in the cooking process to prevent burning.
  • Black pepper and sea salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil is ideal for sauteing eggplant, but any neutral cooking oil will do.
Sauteed eggplant ingredients

Exactly How to Prepare Eggplant for Frying

Eggplant can be cut in a few different ways for sautéing:

  • Slices Using a knife, make crosswise slices of the eggplant about a quarter of an inch thick. Slice from the stem-less end first so you have something to hold onto as you work.
  • Strips Cut the eggplant into half-inch slices, stack the slices, and then cut them into long strips.
  • Cubes Cubes can be made by following the same procedure as cutting strips, but then reversing the direction of all the cuts.

The latter two techniques are especially useful when making sauces or other condiments.

Pan frying eggplant in slices is how I like it because...

  • In terms of speed, this is your best bet.
  • Each slice has perfectly caramelized edges.
  • Since you only have to saute in one place and flip once, browning is much simpler.
  • A quarter-inch-thick slice of eggplant will cook quickly and caramelize beautifully.

Raw eggplant sliced in circles

Here, you'll find a detailed guide on how to sauté eggplant, complete with photos. Read the recipe card down below for complete instructions, including measurements and cooking times.

  • Season Prepare eggplant by seasoning it with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. For additional flavor, sprinkle on some Italian seasoning.

TIP: The need for pre-salting is unnecessary. Although this method is commonly used to remove bitterness from eggplant, modern varieties have been bred to eliminate the problem altogether. That's also the quickest way to prepare eggplant.

Seasoned raw eggplant slices flat on a platter

  • Saute In a large skillet, over medium heat, add oil, then add eggplant slices in a single layer. Saute the eggplant on both sides until it is completely soft and caramelized, working in batches if necessary. To cook the rest of the eggplant, repeat the process with fresh oil in between each batch.

TIP: Never disturb the eggplant The eggplant should not be touched during cooking other than to flip it, in contrast to some sauteing methods. This is how we get that golden brown color and delicious flavor.

Sauteed eggplant fully cooked in pan

If the eggplant is sliced 1/4 inch thick, it will take 4 to 6 minutes per side to cook. When soft inside and browned and caramelized outside, they're done cooking.

Varieties of Eggplant Fried in a Pan

  • Sauté a combination of sliced eggplant and zucchini. The only requirement is that the slices be uniform in thickness, and both will work wonderfully with this technique.
  • If you want to use fresh minced garlic in place of the garlic powder, add it at the very end of cooking for the eggplant so that it doesn't burn.
  • Sautéed eggplant in the style of a Mediterranean chicken dish: pan-fry the eggplant as directed below, then top with the ingredients called for in the chicken dish.
  • Although I prefer to saute eggplant slices, you can also pan fry eggplant cubes if you like. In order to evenly brown them, you should turn them over every so often.
  • To make eggplant with feta, place one cube of feta cheese on each eggplant when they are nearly done cooking. Cover and let the cheese soften.

Close up shot of finished sauteed eggplant recipe

Eggplant can be kept refrigerated for three to five days if the container is airtight.

Are frozen eggplants a viable option?

Yes Put the cooked eggplant slices in a freezer-safe bag or container between sheets of parchment paper. It can be frozen and kept for up to a year. Refrigerate the frozen item overnight before re-heating it.

Advice for reheating:

Warm eggplant in a preheated oven (at 350 degrees F) for about 15 minutes. The cold version of this sauteed eggplant dish is to die for.

Sauteed eggplant on a platter

Eggplant goes well with Mediterranean, Mediterranean-inspired, and Italian flavors when sauteed. It pairs well with a wide range of meats and hearty pastas:

Additionally Nutritious Eggplant Dishes

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The timestamps below can be used to start a kitchen timer while you cook.

  1. Crosswise slices of eggplant should be about 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick. You should wait to remove the leafy end until you're finished slicing so that you have more of a handle to hold onto. Dry the slices with paper towels if necessary.

  2. The eggplant should be sliced, then seasoned with garlic powder, salt, and pepper on both sides.

  3. To prepare, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over low to medium heat. Add the eggplant slices, one layer at a time, as you cook them. The eggplant should be sautéed for minutes 3-6 cooking it until it's pliable, browned, and caramelized on each side The next time you use the oven, add another 1-2 tablespoons of oil and repeat with the remaining eggplant slices.

The recommended serving size is four to five slices, or about a quarter of the entire recipe.

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How to pan fry eggplant: recipe pin
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