I’ve been taking full advantage of grilling season, so dinners around here have been featuring a lot of grilled vegetables and fresh salads. Summer meals are about simplicity and flavor, a great opportunity to showcase vegetables and make them the center of a meal. This Pan-Fried Eggplant with Miso Tahini Dressing – a very quick and easy dish – although made in a skillet, would get a nice little char when grilled. If using a grill pan or grill, it’s a good idea to slice them lengthwise to make the grilling go faster.
I like cutting the eggplant into rounds, but eggplants do take a bit of time to cook. You then have keep an eye on them and flip each one over halfway through, which sounds laborious, but it’s not (unless you’re making a big batch). It just requires a certain level of patience. Like I mentioned before, slicing them lengthwise helps speed up the process.
a very versatile vegetable
Eggplant, a vegetable like no other (it’s actually a fruit), is often called “meaty,” for being so flavorful and substantial. But its most prized quality is it versatility. It’s a blank-canvas vegetable that take on the flavors of whatever you combine it with.
Once you start experience with eggplant, you’ll realize how magical it is. Simply sautéing it is enough for it to absorb the flavors and liquids around it and transform into something else. Baked, stuffed, roasted, stewed, fried, or in a casserole, it takes on a whole new different flavor profile and texture.
The first step, cutting a criss-cross pattern in the eggplant, helps it cook evenly. Then there’s the salting, which helps extract bitterness. While the eggplant cooks, prepare the dressing, which by the way, is essentially a big mixing of cuisines and flavors: there’s the fusion of tahini and miso, plus garlic, maple syrup, and lemon. They all work really well together and you end up with a creamy, salty dressing.
When it comes to seasoning, I always encourage people to taste as they go and make any necessary adjustments. As you grow more comfortable experimenting with ingredients, recipes become of a guideline than a rule. Having said that, for this recipe I use salt, brown sugar, and smoked paprika, but Aleppo pepper or cayenne would also work well. The same goes for the sauce, so feel free to add more miso for a saltier sauce or more maple syrup for a sweeter sauce, and so forth.
Eggplant can soak up a lot of oil shockingly fast, so controlling the oil helps preventing the eggplant from soaking it all up. I find brushing the oil onto the eggplant as oppose to pouring it into the pan prevents the oil from soaking into the flesh, but I’m also not oppose to cooking it in an abundance of olive oil, so at the end of the day it’s up to you.
The chopped walnuts add a much needed crunch to the eggplant’s spongy texture. Feel free to add any fresh herbs you like. I like adding an abundance of parsley, but cilantro and mint, or a mix of both would also be great.
more easy eggplant recipes
I go into details on what to look for when buying eggplant at the grocery store on this post. And if you want to try different eggplant recipes, this take on Pasta alla Norma is an easy and quick dinner idea and this roasted eggplant with whipped tahini sauce is caramelised and creamy version of this precious vegetable. I mean, fruit.
Pan-Fried Eggplant with Miso Tahini Dressing
For the Eggplant:
- 1 medium eggplant
- 1/2 tsp alt
- black pepper
- olive oil, for brushing
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 cup tahini
- 2 cloves garlic, grated
- 1 Tbsp miso paste
- 2 tsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp rice vinegar
- fresh parsley, chopped
- toasted walnuts, chopped
- olive oil
For the Miso Tahini Dressing:
- Slice the eggplant into 1/2 inch rounds.
- Drizzle olive oil over eggplant and use a brush or your hands to massage it into the eggplant.
- In a small bowl, add the salt, black pepper, smoked paprika, and brown sugar. Mix to combine.
- Sprinkle over both sides of the eggplant, using your fingers to spread it until well coated.
- Heat a skillet or a grill pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add a drizzle of olive oil, then add the eggplant slices. Don’t overlap.
- Fry the eggplant until softened and brown on both side. Check often. It’ll absorb the oil quickly, but it’s okay, add more olive oil if needed. If the eggplant appears to be getting too dark and not softening, turn down the heat. Turn the eggplants over when well-browned and softened slightly.
- Remove eggplants to a plate.
- Make the dressing: To a small mixing bowl add tahini, grated garlic, miso paste, rice vinegar, and maple syrup and whisk to combine.
- Add water until sauce is creamy and pourable. Taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding more vinegar for tanginess, maple syrup for sweetness, miso and salt for saltiness.
- Pour dressing over eggplant. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and walnuts. Serve
If you make this Pan-Fried Eggplant with Miso Tahini Dressing please be sure to leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you and I love responding to every comment. And don’t forget to also tag me on Instagram. I’d love to see your photos!