- 1 Eggplant: An Overview
- 2 Substitutes for Eggplant
- 2.1 Portobello Mushrooms
- 2.2 Shiitake Mushrooms
- 2.3 Zucchini
- 2.4 Green Tomatoes
- 2.5 Summer Squash
- 2.6 Okra
- 2.7 Root Vegetables
- 2.8 Classic Eggplant Varieties as an Alternative
- 3 Conclusion
A wonderful and healthy option, eggplant is a fantastic addition to your meals. And while nutritional and very tasty, not everyone can eat this fruit (yes, it’s actually a fruit). And one of the main and common causes is allergy. Other than that, there are some times when you can’t find any eggplant around. And in both those cases, you can easily fix this inconvenience, by just using a great eggplant substitute – Portobello and Shiitake Mushrooms, Zucchini, Green Tomatoes, Summer Squash, and many more. All of these will be a perfect option when you need eggplant replacement that will be just as delicious and nutritional!
Eggplant: An Overview
Eggplant also called aubergine is a spongy fruit from the nightshade family of plants. They vary in size and color, grow from a flowering plant, and contain seeds. In addition to dozens of health benefits, there are also many uses for eggplant. For example, you can eat it itself, or you can roast, stir-fry, and use eggplant to make a lot of dishes. People love it not only because it gives your food rich and delicious texture and flavor, but also because it’s incredibly beneficial to your health.
For example, the main benefits of eggplant is that it’s:
- Rich in nutrients: Eggplant has a lot of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and few calories (20 calories/82 grams, to be exact) Other than that, aubergine is enriched with carbs, fiber, protein, manganese, folate, potassium, Vit K, and Vit C. Other than that it also has niacin, magnesium, and copper are also present.
- Plenty of antioxidants: Apart from the nutrients, eggplant is also very rich in antioxidants. And these help to protect from free radical damage, prevent chronic diseases like heart ailment and cancer. Other than that this fruit has a pigment called anthocyanins which has antioxidant properties, beneficial for protecting cells from harmful free radicals.
- Protection from heart-related diseases: Thanks to a bunch of vitamins and antioxidants, eggplant has also been proven to protect your heart from diseases.
- Helps control blood sugar: Due to its fiber-rich content, eggplant slows down the process of digestion and absorption of sugar. That helps in keeping the blood sugar level under control. Some research also suggests that polyphenols, which are present in eggplant, lower sugar absorption in the blood and increase insulin secretion. That also helps control your blood sugar levels, which is important to prevent type 2 diabetes.
- Anti-cancer properties: A type of cancer cell fighting compound named solasodine rhamnosyl glycosides (SRGs) are found in eggplants which helps in the reduction of certain types of cancer. Thus, it’s safe to say that eggplant also has anti-cancer properties.
Usage of Eggplants in Culinary
Not sure about what does eggplant taste like or why to pick it? It is very simple. They come in a variety and have a soft and spongy texture. And while eggplant tastes slightly bitter you can cancel this bitterness by cooking it properly, frying, grilled, or roasted. After that, they turn out to be soft, sweet, and delicious.
For example, some of the most popular eggplant-based dishes are:
- Greek-style braised eggplant recipe
- Great tahini
- Chinese crispy stuffed eggplant
- Eggplant parmigiana
- Grilled eggplant
- Marinated teriyaki eggplant
Substitutes for Eggplant
While eggplants are highly unique in taste and can be used in so many dishes, there are also plenty of eggplant replacements that are just as nutritional and delicious. For example:
Native to Europe and North America this substitute for eggplant is a good fit for people that love mushrooms. These come in many sizes and have a sort of savory taste. Portobello Mushrooms can be used in moussaka, red or white cream pasta, pizzas, or you can oven-roast them with parmesan cheese. Therefore, because of its juicy and supple texture, it can make a good vegan-friendly eggplant substitute and replacement of meat.
This is another mushroom variant commonly found in Asian countries. And in addition to being a wonderful eggplant substitute, Shiitake Mushrooms are also incredibly beneficial for your health, especially the heart and immune system. As far as an eggplant replacement, you can use Shiitake Mushrooms for making stir-fries, soup, and stew dishes.
Zucchini is another delicious and healthy eggplant alternative. And compared to that fruit, Zucchini has a mild flavor, it’s less spongy, and mushy in texture. However, it will still taste the same if you add enough of it. Zucchini can be added to pasta, stir-fries, soup, and stew dishes. Moreover, Zucchini is also the best substitute for eggplant in ratatouille.
Green tomatoes are probably one of the most easily accessible and common substitutes for eggplant, especially in summer. Moreover, due to their amazing taste and texture, these tomatoes can even be used as an ingredient substitute for ratatouille. And if you can’t find the green ones, you can also use red tomatoes, and adjust them by simply doubling up the portion.
If you want to add volume to the recipe, then yellow or summer squash would be your perfect eggplant replacement. They provide texture to the dish without overshadowing the real taste. And if you prefer a more mild taste, then summer squash is a choice for you. This eggplant alternative goes well with dishes like casserole, stir-fry, and ratatouille.
This is an excellent substitute for eggplant, as they taste very similar when cooked. But not completely, since Okra has a more mild taste. It goes well with a casserole and high-heat dishes like stir-fry. But for the other dishes, it’s best to try some other eggplant alternative.
Root vegetables also work great as an eggplant substitute. Veggies like carrots, beets, turnips are fantastic for soup, sauce, curry, and/or if you want to make a spicy moutabal dip. But do keep in mind that if you’re using root vegetables as an alternative for eggplant, it’s best to include them in dishes that need to be cooked for a longer time, so the texture could become softer.
Classic Eggplant Varieties as an Alternative
Do not want to give up on eggplant? You do not have to. There are tons of eggplant alternatives that you can include in your recipe without giving up on it. While there might be slight differences in texture and taste can be experienced, some may even find these eggplant substitutes even tastier.
Fairy Tale Eggplant
A fairy tale is the tiniest eggplant variety of them all. It has a very distinct purple color with white stripes and it gives a very juicy and tender flavor once you cook it right. And speaking of taste, this amazing eggplant replacement can be cooked just like the regular one, hence you can put it in any dish. It’s especially delicious with pasta and curry.
As you can guess from the name, the biggest difference between white eggplant and a regular one is the color. Other than that, they both taste pretty much the same. And this eggplant substitute can be used in any dish, but our personal favorite is to add it to lasagna.
Sometimes referred to as baby eggplant, this is a pretty small eggplant variant, much like the fairy tale. But unlike “fairy” Indian sort is slightly bigger, and has a darker, almost red color. This is a perfect eggplant alternative, especially for Indian meals, like curry, since Indian eggplant is very popular in this cuisine. Plus, this baby eggplant doesn’t get mushy if you overcook it, hence it’s also a good choice for roasted and stuffed dishes.
These are also known as American eggplants, and it’s the biggest eggplant variety of them all. And because of that, this wonderful eggplant replacement is great for grilling and roasting. However, do keep in mind that Globe eggplant tends to absorb liquids quite well. So if you plan to grill it and don’t want it to absorb too much grease – make sure to dip it into flour.
Italian eggplants are pretty similar to Globe ones, with the difference that they’re slightly smaller, but still as meaty. Plus, this eggplant alternative has a more oval shape and is a lot sweeter. But in order to reach that full taste, they need to be properly, well cooked. Finally, Italian eggplants live up to the name, since these are perfect for Italian cuisine with parmesan, dishes like ricetta melanzane fritte al pomodoro, and fried eggplant in tomato sauce.
Rosa Bianca Eggplant
In our honest opinion, this is the most beautiful eggplant type of them all. You can’t mistake Rosa Bianca with any other eggplant, as it has distinctive bright purple and white markings, that almost look like tulip or rose. Compared to other eggplant substitutes, this type is less bitter, has more delicate in taste, and bulbous in shape. As for the cooking, Rose Bianca can be used in baking, stuffing, and even in salads.
All and all, eggplants are a great choice for both meat-eaters and vegans/vegetarians. And that is not only because of rich flavor, texture, nutritious value, and medicinal properties but also because eggplant is extremely versatile, and can be used in many dishes and ways of cooking.
And when you for some reason can’t eat or find this wonderful fruit, you can easily use any eggplant substitute that will make your meal just as healthy and delicious! Green tomatoes, root veggies, Zucchini, various mushrooms – all of these would be a wonderful eggplant alternative, especially for the specific dish. And while some of these may require a vegetable shredder, others would need no manipulation, and you can just add them to any dish you want!
With that said, hope we helped you learn more about eggplant substitutes and that you can find the one you’ll love! Or perhaps you know some other eggplant replacement? Then feel free to share it with us in the comments, we would love to know!