This roasted eggplant is a thunderclap. The inside will be soft, but where the scores met, the eggplant will be crisp. It’s all crackle and give, like no eggplant I’ve ever tasted. You can go bare-bones, and dress the eggplant solely with salt and good olive oil before roasting. Then serve with lemon and maybe some dried chile flakes and flaky salt. Or go bold with your flavorings, adding a funky herb, some vinegar, Parmesan cheese, chopped capers—all mashed together and smashed into the scored eggplant. You’ll never look at eggplant the same way again.
- Adjust the top oven rack so it sits about six or so inches from the broiler. If your broiler is in a separate section of the oven—one where there isn’t at least six inches between the heat source and the rack—consider hot-roasting the eggplant at 500°F. Better that than burnt eggplant.
- Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Slice all the eggplants in half lengthwise. It’s fine if some eggplants are larger and some smaller. Cut a crosshatch pattern into each of the cut faces of the eggplant halves. There should be about 1/4 to 1/2 an inch between each cut. You also want to cut about 1/4 inch deep into the flesh. This doesn’t have to be precise. Set the halves cut-side up on the lined baking sheet.
- Either drizzle a decent amount of olive oil over each half or use a brush to slick the eggplant with olive oil. I like a brush because you can distribute the oil more evenly. But if that’s too fussy an approach for you, skip it. Dust the halves liberally with salt.
- Broil the eggplant for about 4 minutes, checking every minute or so that the oven’s heat hasn’t run away from you and is charring the eggplant. Rotate the sheet and cook for at least another 5 minutes or so. You want the top to be crisp where the cuts are and the eggplant to give easily when you squeeze its sides. Smaller halves may be finished sooner, so remove those if that happens.
- Remove the tray when the largest pieces are finished cooking. Let cool a bit and serve with lemon chiles, a shower of dried chile flakes, and some flaky salt.
Recipe by Scott Hocker
Scott Hocker is a writer, editor, recipe developer, cookbook author, and content and editorial consultant. He has worked in magazines, kitchens, newsletters, restaurants and a bunch of other environments he can’t remember right now. He has also been the editor in chief of both liquor.com and Tasting Table.