14 Tasty, Frugal Eggplant Recipes

Eggplant can be a frugal staple of many delicious dishes, especially when in season. You can easily grow it in most gardens nationwide, and one plant can yield dozens of the purple-skinned beauties.

Most gardeners and gourmet shoppers can soon run out of ideas for the versatile aubergine, however. If that's you, consider these dozen-plus-two affordable dishes you can create from the abundant and adorable eggplant. (See also: 25+ Delicious, Healthy, and Cheap Bean Recipes)

1. Eggplant Parmesan

The number one dish most people make with the eggplant, it’s prepared many ways for a variation in flavor, fat, and calories. Since eggplant is in season when most kitchens are already very hot, I recommend this stove-top version of the dish from Scordo.com.

2. Sub Sandwiches

If you happen to have any leftover eggplant parm, you can put it to good use as filling for a toasted sub roll. Add extra cheese and fresh spinach for something similar to a chain shop but much tastier and healthier, of course!

3. Ratatouille

This dish may be one of the most affordable meals you can throw together during eggplant season (especially if you can pick all the veggies and fruits from your garden). This slow-cooker Ratatouille recipe is simple and cooks itself while you’re at work!

4. Stuffed Eggplant (Involtini)

While the skill factor is high in this ricotta-filled dish, the results are nothing but breathtaking. This recipe from Alexandria’s Kitchen includes step-by-step photos to help you along, and by using your own tomato sauce, you’ll save a little extra on your grocery bill.

5. Eggplant Pizza

We all know that you can put everything on a pizza, so this tasty Mediterranean-inspired pizza dish just makes sense. Save more money by making your own crust; add even more veggies for a variation in textures.

6. Eggplant Dip

It’s amazing how you can turn grilled eggplant into a creamy, dreamy dip for pitas, chips, and veggies! This recipe from Paula Deen would make a tasty dish for any party or appetizer occasion.

7. Eggplant Burgers

You won’t fool anyone into thinking they are beef, but eggplant burgers can be a filling alternative for those who want a break from meat. Commercial food services have perfected the burger and sell them in frozen form; you can create your own grilled eggplant patties to throw on the grill for much less.

8. Eggplant Balls

The internet is full of recipes for eggplant meatballs, but the variations are wild from one to the next. How you desire your eggplant (chopped, ground, or thick and chunky) and your preference of seasoning will determine what recipe you go with. This eggplant ball recipe is light, mildly-seasoned, and perfect for dipping in a marinara sauce.

9. Soup

While most eggplant soups and stews are made with a tomato-based sauce, there are a number of ways to serve it. I am personally a fan of pasta and think that this eggplant raviolini soup is something that even my kids would try. Served with a nice crusty focaccia, you have an affordable meal that can really fill you up!

10. Breaded and Fried

I ate this dish growing up, and I still enjoy it. It is prepared most easily by slicing the eggplant, dipping it in an egg wash, breading it in a mixture of seasoned breadcrumbs and flour, and frying it in some hot oil. Be sure to salt it well after cooking, and eat it before it cools. I love it by itself, but the kids adore it with ketchup!

11. Lasagna

While the eggplant will need special treatment before layering into a dish, you can substitute the hearty fruit for standard lasagna noodles. For full instructions on sweating and blotting, I recommend this totally meat-free lasagna.

12. Panini

What is it about this kind of fancy, grilled bread that makes eating most any garden harvest tastier than usual? This simple recipe of grilled panini with eggplant and mozzarella has just a few ingredients and all the potential to become a summertime favorite! (See our picks for the best panini makers.)

13. Moussaka

This Greek dish can be prepared many ways, but this traditional Greek Moussaka recipe is true to the original. While it takes a bit of time to prepare, this delicious and hearty lamb and eggplant casserole is definitely worth the effort!

14. Pickles

Most anything from the garden can (and should) be pickled, and eggplant is no exception. While the practice of pickling in olive oil isn’t common to most kitchens, Scordo’s Pickled Eggplant recipe has proven to be a staple in his home for generations.

For many gardeners, the eggplant will continue to come long after you’ve prepared and enjoyed every dish you can find. For those who can’t give away their excess, you can always freeze the purple stuff for later.

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Guest's picture

Wow! What an impressive list! I've been really into trying different foods--especially with vegetables--so I will definitely have to try one (if not more since there are so many) of these recipes.

Guest's picture

You left out one, baba ganoush...a middle eastern dish that is healthy and great tasting. I make it and snack for a light meal with some toasted pita bread. It will keep for a week in the fridge. It is sesame butter (crushed sesame seeds). fresh garlic, fresh lemon juice, and olive oil.