Eggplant Substitutes

13 Delicious Eggplant Substitutes to Spice Up Your Meals

Eggplants, also known as Aubergines or Brinjal, are a widely used veggie in various cuisines. Yet, if you can’t find them fresh or they don’t appeal to you, don’t worry! There are plenty of tasty eggplant substitutes to spice up your meals. Here are 10 delicious alternatives to give a try.

What is Eggplant?

Eggplant, scientifically known as Solanum melongena, is a plant with edible fruit. The origin of eggplant is debated, with claims that it is native to India. It has been grown in southern and eastern Asia since ancient times.

Eggplants are widely grown and enjoyed globally, especially in Mediterranean and Asian dishes. The eggplant is a tender perennial plant. It grows best in warm climates with plenty of sunlight. It has large, glossy purple fruits. These fruits can be round or elongated depending on the variety.

Aubergine Substitutes

The flesh is spongy and white or yellowish white, with tiny edible seeds scattered throughout. Eggplants are versatile and can be cooked in various ways like baking, grilling, frying, sautéing, and steaming. They’re commonly used in dishes like ratatouille and moussaka but can also be enjoyed in salads or side dishes. Eggplants are healthy because they contain vitamins A, and C, and dietary fiber, making them a great addition to any diet!

Quick Eggplant Facts

  1. Eggplants are also called brinjal, melanzana, or aubergine. They belong to the Solanaceae family, also known as the nightshade family. Their scientific name is Solanum melongena.
  2. The name “eggplant” comes from English because one variety looked like an egg.
  3. Even though botanists classify eggplants as berries, we use them as vegetables in cooking.
  4. The Globe or American eggplant is the biggest and most common type you find in US stores. They can grow over 10 inches long.

Best Eggplant Substitutes

1. Zucchini

Zucchini, also called courgette, is a kind of summer squash. It tastes mild, kind of like eggplant. Be careful not to cook it for too long, or it’ll get really soft, unlike eggplant, which stays firmer when cooked. Eggplants are good for making gluten-free lasagna or ratatouille because they keep their shape well. Zucchini is full of good stuff like vitamins A and C, potassium, and fiber, so it’s good for you.

Zucchini - Eggplant Substitute

When you’re cooking zucchini, follow the same instructions you’d use for eggplant in your recipe. Just remember that zucchini has more water, so you might need to adjust the cooking time to get the texture you want. Zucchini’s mild taste and soft texture make it a great swap for eggplant, adding something special to your dishes.

2. Okra 

Okra tastes mild, with a hint of grassiness. When it’s cooked, it tastes a bit like eggplant and makes a great replacement. The main difference between okra and eggplant is that okra can get slimy when cooked. In slow-cooked dishes such as casseroles, okra is handy for thickening, but in others, it might not be as enjoyable due to its slimy texture.

Okra - Eggplant Substitute

To reduce okra’s sliminess before cooking, soak it in vinegar for an hour and pat it dry. This will help remove the slimy mucilage before it gets into your food. For quick, hot-cooking meals such as stir-fry, you can skip soaking the okra as it won’t have the opportunity to release excess liquid.

3. Portobello Mushrooms

Portobello mushrooms are popular in Europe and South America. They add a tasty umami flavor to your cooking. If you want something similar to eggplant, mushrooms aren’t the best choice. But they work well in lots of recipes, like pasta and moussaka.

Portobello Mushrooms - Eggplant Alternative

They’re juicy and savory, making them a great meat substitute for vegetarians and vegans. Mushrooms go nicely with ingredients like garlic, tomato, and peppers, just like eggplant. The only downside is their size. If you need long slices for layering in a recipe, mushrooms won’t work, but zucchini will. They’re also nutritious, with vitamins and minerals and few calories. When cooking, follow the eggplant recipe, but keep an eye on the mushrooms – they might cook at a different speed. Make sure they’re tender just right.

4. Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms are another alternative you can use if you can’t find Portobello mushrooms to replace eggplant. They’re often found in Asian countries and have a big size with a rich, umami taste.

Shiitake Mushrooms - Substitute for Eggplant

Usually, you can use these mushrooms in soups, stir-fries, and stews. A great thing about using shiitake mushrooms is that they have medicinal properties that can help with common health issues. They’re often used in Chinese medicine.

5. Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a tasty way to add some sweetness to your meals. If you like eggplant dishes, sweet potatoes can be a fun change to try. Sweet potatoes are a yummy alternative to eggplants in lots of recipes. Their natural sweetness and starchy texture add a tasty twist to traditional eggplant dishes.

Sweet Potatoes - Alternative for Eggplant

To use sweet potatoes instead of eggplant, peel and slice them to your liking. Thin slices work well for layered dishes like lasagna, while thicker ones are good for grilling or roasting. Season or marinate the slices according to your recipe, but keep in mind their sweetness might need some adjustment to the seasoning.

When cooking, follow the recipe for eggplant, but sweet potatoes may take longer to cook because they’re denser. Adjust the cooking time as needed.

6. Cauliflower

Cauliflower can be a tasty and healthy alternative to meat. When you roast it, this veggie gets a hearty texture similar to eggplant, which is great for dishes like curries and stir-fries.

Cauliflower - Eggplant Substitute

Cauliflower is packed with vitamins and nutrients, making it a healthy option to replace eggplant in recipes. Its mild flavor and tender texture absorb seasonings and marinades well. When swapping cauliflower for eggplant, begin by slicing the cauliflower into thick steaks or large florets, depending on what the recipe calls for.

When cooking, follow the recipe for eggplant, but keep an eye on the cauliflower because it might cook faster.

7. Butternut Squash

Butternut squash is a tasty and nutritious option to replace eggplants in various recipes. Its slightly sweet flavor and firm texture can give a unique twist to traditional eggplant dishes. If you want to replace eggplant with butternut squash, first peel the squash, scoop out the seeds, and then slice it to your preferred thickness. Season or marinate the slices as needed for your recipe.

Butternut Squash - Eggplant Substitute

When cooking, follow the eggplant recipe, but keep in mind that butternut squash may take longer to cook due to its firmer texture. Adjust the cooking time as necessary to achieve the right tenderness. 

8. Summer Squash

Pattypan or yellow squash are great options to use instead of eggplant if you want to add more to your recipe. They work well in dishes like casseroles, stir-fries, or ratatouille. These squash types have a mild taste that won’t take over your dish but will add texture.

You can also stuff larger squash varieties, similar to how you would with eggplant. This is a good choice for those who don’t like bitter flavors.

9. Bell Peppers

Bell peppers are a versatile veggie that can be used like eggplant. You can stuff them or slice them up for dishes like fajitas. They not only add flavor but also bring color to your meals.

Bell Peppers - Eggplant Substitute

Using bell peppers instead of eggplants can add a fresh twist to your dishes. They have a mild taste and crisp texture that contrasts with the softness of eggplants. To use them, choose firm peppers in red, yellow, orange, or green. Remove the seeds and slice them as needed for your recipe. Using bell peppers as a substitute for eggplants adds color and crunch to your meals, making them look and taste great.

10. Tofu

Tofu, also called bean curd, is a good plant-based replacement for eggplants in various recipes, especially if you want more protein. It has a neutral taste and can soak up flavors from seasonings and marinades, making it a versatile ingredient. To use tofu instead of eggplants, go for a firm type that stays in shape while cooking. First, drain and press the tofu to get rid of extra water. Then, slice or cube it as needed for your recipe.

Tofu is healthy with low fat and calories. Its mild taste is perfect for trying different flavors. When cooking, remember it may cook faster than eggplant due to its lighter texture.

11. Artichokes 

Artichokes are tasty and versatile in cooking. Roasting or grilling them adds a smoky flavor and meaty texture to dishes.

Artichokes - Eggplant Alternatives

They’re a great option to replace eggplants in recipes. Their earthy taste and tender texture can enhance traditional eggplant dishes. To use artichokes instead of eggplants, choose fresh or canned artichoke hearts. If using whole artichokes, trim them, remove the choke, and cut them as needed.

When cooking, follow the eggplant recipe, but be ready to adjust cooking times as artichokes may cook faster due to their delicate texture.

12. Celeriac

Celeriac is a versatile veggie that can replace eggplant in dishes like stews or gratins. Celeriac, also called celery root, is a nutritious vegetable that provides a unique option instead of eggplant in many recipes. Its subtle earthy flavor and firm texture create a unique contrast to the slightly bitter taste and softer texture of eggplants. To use celeriac instead of eggplant, peel it and cut it as your recipe needs.

When cooking, follow the eggplant recipe, but be aware that celeriac may take a bit longer due to its firmer texture. Substituting eggplant with celeriac brings a special earthy flavor and hearty texture to your meals, creating a tasty and satisfying dish that appeals to a variety of palates.

13. Root Vegetables

If you can’t find eggplant, try using root vegetables like turnips, carrots, or potatoes. They work well in slow-cooked dishes and can give a similar taste. These veggies are good for thickening curries and casseroles. Rutabagas, or turnips are easy to find and great options. Just remember to cook them longer to soften them up properly.

See Also – 13 Fantastic Parsnips Substitutes

Summing Up

If you can’t have eggplant or don’t like it. You can swap it with tasty alternatives like okra, zucchini, Portobello mushrooms, summer squash, or even a root vegetable. You can also try different kinds of eggplants if you want something similar but not quite the same as the usual one. Get creative and enjoy your dish without any worries!

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