Eggplant is a versatile vegetable that can be prepared in many different ways. However, traditional cooking methods like roasting, grilling or frying can be time consuming and require a good amount of oil.
Cooking eggplant in the microwave is a quick and healthy alternative that takes just a few minutes. The microwave helps soften and cook the eggplant without needing to add any extra fat.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about cooking eggplant in the microwave. We’ll cover microwave wattage, cook times, instructions, tips and delicious recipe ideas to make with your cooked eggplant.
Here’s a quick answer: To cook eggplant in the microwave, first cut it lengthwise into 1/2 inch thick halves and brush with olive oil. Place the halves cut-side up in a microwave-safe dish, cover, and microwave for 7-8 minutes for one medium eggplant or 8-9 minutes for two medium eggplants. Check for doneness and microwave for 1-2 more minutes if needed. Eggplant is done when very tender.
Benefits of Cooking Eggplant in the Microwave
Here are some of the main benefits of using the microwave to cook eggplant:
- It’s fast – Cooking eggplant in the microwave takes only 5-10 minutes compared to roasting which can take 30-60 minutes.
- Uses less oil – You only need to brush a small amount of oil on the eggplant to help it cook evenly. Roasting or frying eggplant requires more oil.
- Retains nutrients – Microwaving is a moist heat method of cooking so fewer nutrients are lost compared to dry heat methods.
- Has great texture – Eggplant comes out tender on the inside but still holds its shape well.
- Easy cleanup – Microwaving eggplant is less messy than roasting or frying. Just place it on a dish, cover and cook.
How to Choose Your Eggplant
When selecting eggplant for cooking, you’ll want to pick ones that are fresh, firm, and free of blemishes. This will ensure the best flavor and texture.
Look for eggplants that feel heavy for their size and have smooth, shiny, taut skin. The skin should have a bright, rich color whether it’s the classic dark purple, striped purple and white, or green. Avoid eggplants with soft wrinkled skin or brown/yellow discoloration as this indicates overripe produce.
Press gently on the eggplant. It should feel firm with no indentation. Soft squishy spots mean the interior flesh is becoming mushy and spoiled. Also inspect the stem and cap. They should be bright green and not dried out. Pass on eggplants with cuts, bruises or mold.
Smaller eggplants around 6-8 inches long tend to be more tender and have fewer seeds. The long thin Asian varieties and oval shaped Italian globes work well for most cooking methods. Larger, more rounded eggplants can be used if you’re planning to scoop out and cook the flesh. Try different types to see which you prefer.
For peak freshness, use eggplant within 2-3 days of purchasing. Choose firm, unblemished eggplants and you’ll be ready to enjoy their unique flavor and texture.
Microwave Wattage for Cooking Eggplant
Most microwave ovens range from 600-1200 watts. Higher wattage microwaves will cook food faster than lower wattage models. Refer to your microwave manual to find the wattage.
For best results, we recommend using a 700-watt microwave oven. Adjust cook times up or down if your microwave has higher or lower wattage.
Cook Times for Eggplant in the Microwave
The table below provides cook times for 1-2 medium eggplants halved lengthwise.
|Number of Eggplants
Follow these simple steps for cooking eggplant in the microwave:
- Rinse the eggplant and cut in half lengthwise. The thinner the eggplant, the quicker it will cook.
- Brush both sides with olive oil – around 1 teaspoon per half. This helps the eggplant cook evenly.
- Place the eggplant halves in a microwave-safe dish cut side up. Any shallow dish will work.
- Cover with a lid or paper towel. Leave a vent opening so steam can escape.
- Microwave for the recommended time based on the number and size of eggplants.
- Check for doneness. Eggplant should be very tender when pierced with a fork. If needed, microwave for 1-2 more minutes.
- Remove from microwave and let sit for 2 minutes before handling. Eggplant will be hot!
- Use in recipes or season and serve warm. Enjoy!
- For more even cooking, flip the eggplant halves over halfway during the cook time.
- Add a splash of water to the dish to create steam. This helps cook the eggplant faster.
- Undercook slightly if you’ll be cooking it further in recipes.
- Overcooked eggplant will be mushy. err on the side of slightly undercooking.
How to Use Cooked Eggplant
Now that you know how easy it is to cook eggplant in the microwave, here are some tasty ways to use it:
- Toss with olive oil and vinegar for a simple eggplant side dish. Season with garlic, basil and red pepper flakes.
- Make baba ganoush by blending with tahini, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic.
- Use in vegetable lasagne or eggplant parmesan. Just assemble with sauce and cheese then bake.
- Add to pasta dishes like penne with roasted eggplant and cherry tomatoes.
- Mix with herbs and stuff into sandwiches or pitas for flavorful eggplant burgers.
- Blend into a smokey eggplant dip with roasted red peppers and walnuts.
- For a vegan pasta sauce, blend eggplant with stock, herbs and nutritional yeast.
- Roast eggplant that’s been pre-cooked in the microwave for deeper flavor.
- Make a middle eastern salad with eggplant, chickpeas, parsley and a lemon tahini dressing.
Eggplant Microwave Recipe Ideas
Here are 3 delicious microwave eggplant recipes to try:
1. Microwaved Eggplant with Garlic Sauce
- 1 medium eggplant, halved lengthwise
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Microwave eggplant for 7-8 minutes until very tender.
- In a small bowl, combine the garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, parsley and salt and pepper.
- Remove eggplant from microwave and top with garlic sauce. Enjoy!
2. Baba Ganoush Dip
- 2 medium eggplants, halved
- 1/4 cup tahini
- Juice from 1 lemon
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Microwave eggplant for 8-10 minutes until very soft.
- Scoop out flesh and blend in a food processor with remaining ingredients until smooth.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Chill before serving with pita bread or vegetables.
3. Cheesy Eggplant Parmesan
- 2 medium eggplants, sliced 1/2 inch thick
- 1 cup marinara sauce
- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
- 1/4 cup parmesan, grated
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Brush eggplant slices with olive oil and microwave for 4-5 minutes until almost tender.
- Layer eggplant in a baking dish with marinara sauce and cheeses.
- Bake at 400F for 15 minutes until hot and cheese is melted.
- Let cool 5 minutes before serving.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best way to prep eggplant for the microwave?
Cut eggplant in half lengthwise so it cooks evenly. The thinner you cut it, the faster it will cook. Slices should be no more than 1/2 inch thick.
Do you need to poke holes in the eggplant before microwaving?
No, this step is not necessary when cooking halved or sliced eggplant.
Should you cover the eggplant while microwaving?
Yes, covering helps trap steam to ensure the eggplant cooks evenly and doesn’t dry out. Use a lid or paper towel.
Can you microwave a whole eggplant?
It’s best to halve or slice large eggplants to ensure even cooking. Small Japanese eggplants can be cooked whole.
How do you know when eggplant is done in the microwave?
Test for tenderness by poking with a fork. Eggplant should feel very soft throughout when done.
How long does cooked eggplant last in the fridge?
Cooked eggplant will keep 3-4 days refrigerated. Store leftovers in an airtight container.
As you can see, the microwave offers a quick and convenient method for cooking eggplant without sacrificing taste or nutrition.
In just 5-10 minutes you can have tender, perfectly cooked eggplant ready to be turned into anything from a hearty pasta dish to a creamy dip.
Experiment with different flavor combinations and add cooked eggplant to your favorite recipes. Enjoy all the benefits of eggplant without the long cook times.