Really pretty, and pretty simple.
Eggplant is one of my favorite vegetables. I only make it in late summer and early fall, but that brief window is filled with eggplant parmesan, baba ganoush, eggplant kebabs, and more eggplant. Raw eggplant tends to have the texture of dry sponge: soft yet hard, and quite dry. But dosed with a good amount of salt and cooked for a long time, eggplant becomes a silky, indulgent vegetable. This hasselback roasted eggplant is one my favorite example of eggplant living its best life.
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Recipe Notes: Hasselback Roasted Eggplant
This recipes almost doesn’t even require a recipe. It doesn’t require much effort, either. Just some passive time. First, you have to toss the eggplant slices in a good amount of salt. This sweats out the bitterness and extra moisture, and adds flavor. Then, rearrange the eggplant slices in rows to make them hasselback, drizzle with olive oil, and bake.
I prefer using long Japanese eggplant instead of big, bulbous Italian eggplant. Both taste great, but the Japanese eggplant’s uniform size makes it much more forgiving when rearranging the slices back into rows.
You can serve the finished hasselback eggplant dish plain, but I strongly recommend adding dollops of fresh tzatziki for a tangy, fresh balance to the salty, earthy eggplant. Make this recipe, with or without the cucumbers. It takes minutes.
Finally, a word about salting eggplant. Eggplant really is like a sponge, both in texture, and in action. Eggplant appears dry and firm, but actually contains a lot of water, which you want to remove for the dish to bake properly. Raw eggplant also tastes quite bland, just this side of bitter. Salting seasons the eggplant, and draws out excess water. Let the eggplant brine for 30 to 60 minutes, with a plate beneath the colander to catch the liquid. Then pat dry — do not rinse — and proceed.
Did you make this Hasselback Roasted Eggplant? What did you think?
Roasted Hasselback Eggplant With Easy Tzatziki
- 1 1/2 pound Japanese or Chinese eggplant (about 2 large)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt, up to 2 tablespoons if you like salt
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, optional
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- freshly-ground black pepper
- 1 recipe fresh tzatziki, to finish (use some extra mint leaves to garnish)
- Slice the eggplant 1/4 inch thick. Remove the ends, but reserve. Toss the eggplant slices in the kosher salt and let drain in a colander for 30 minutes to one hour.
- Pat the eggplant dry with a clean dish towel or paper towels.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and drizzle some of the olive oil in the bottom of a casserole pan or rimmed baking sheet.
- Arrange the eggplant slices in two neat, upright rows. If using, add the grape tomatoes around the eggplant, and drizzle everything with the rest of the olive oil. Add some fresh-cracked black pepper.
- Bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, until the eggplant is very soft. Taste for seasoning.
- Serve warm or at room temperature, dolloped with fresh tzatziki and garnished with some fresh mint leaves.