Eggplants, otherwise known as aubergine, is a staple ingredient in many cuisines. It’s a well-loved addition to recipes because of its versatility. Eggplants are not only nutritious but also taste delicious. With its dense texture and thick flesh, it is a popular replacement for meat in vegan diets. If this veggie is unavailable in your local stores, you can try using the following eggplant substitutes which are just as tasty.
Consider these eggplant varieties:
1. Fairy Tale Eggplant
There are many types of eggplants that you can eat and one of the lesser known ones is this mini eggplant fit for a storybook.
Fairy tale eggplants taste sweet and mild. Its texture can vary depending on how ripe it is. Typically around 4-inches long, this mini aubergine is ideal for roasting, grilling, and marinating. It cooks rather fast so make sure to adjust your cooking accordingly.
2. White Eggplant
A popular alternative to aubergines, white eggplants are less bitter with a denser and creamier consistency. It can be used interchangeably with purple ones as long as you keep the taste and texture differences in mind.
This veggie is a versatile addition to your recipes and tastes great on its own. You can sauté, pan-fry, deep-fry, grill, or bake it as you like. If adding it as an ingredient, slice it and do the same cooking methods along with other vegetables. Note that white eggplants have firmer skin so it’s best to peel it off before cooking.
3. Indian Eggplant
Indian eggplants are much smaller eggplant alternatives than fairy tale eggplants. It averages to 2 inches in height with a packed mini oval shape. It looks like an egg with a smooth, glossy, dark purple outer skin.
Like aubergines, Indian eggplants are edible in their entirety. Its skin is a bit thicker and tougher than regular eggplants though so some prefer to peel the skin.
This egg-like veggie has a mild sweet flavor with creamy texture which are pretty much the same as eggplants. It is best to cook Indian eggplants by roasting, stir-frying, grilling, and baking. It can also be used as a tasty meat substitute in stir-fries and other savory recipes.
Other veggies that work as eggplant substitutes:
4. Shiitake Mushrooms
Should there ever be a time when markets are all out of any kinds of eggplants, there are still more choices you can use to replace aubergines in your dish. One of which is shiitake mushroom.
Shiitake mushrooms are tasty alternatives to eggplants that can provide a meaty bite and umami flavor to your dish. With an earthy, meaty taste, it’s also a popular vegetarian choice for vegan recipes.
There are various dishes that you can add shiitake mushrooms in. From soups to salads, or meat dishes, sauces, gravies, and even cooked as a side dish, it’s a flavorful substitute for both eggplant and meat.
5. Portobello Mushrooms
Portobello mushrooms are another type of nutritious veggie to use instead of eggplants. Much like shiitake mushrooms, portobello mushrooms also have a rich umami taste with a meaty appeal and hearty texture.
With its deep savory flavor that is as satisfying as meat, this veggie has also become a go-to choice for vegetarian diets. You can enjoy this mushroom in your salads, bbq, pasta, pizza, and sandwiches or sauté, grill, and roast it on its own.
If you’ve had enough of mushrooms and eggplant varieties, try another close substitute like zucchini.
This summer squash has a mild flavor with hints of sweetness and bitterness. It can provide satiety with its dense, rich flesh like eggplants. Cooking zucchinis will soften it but still provide a good bite. It will also bring out its veggie sweetness that blends well in a recipe.
Eggplants provide a more distinct umami taste while zucchinis have a fresher earthy flavor. Still, it works well in many dishes like salads, soups, pastas, stir-fries, and even baked goods.
7. Summer squash
Zucchini is actually a type of summer squash but it has a more unique taste and appearance compared to most summer squashes. These veggies share a lot of similarities making them easy, doable, and tasty substitutes for each other in a variety of recipes.
Apart from zucchini, you can try using yellow squashes or pattypan squashes to replace aubergines. These vegetables have edible rinds and dense flesh that becomes soft when cooked much like eggplants. They also provide more flavor and texture to your recipes without necessarily overwhelming the overall taste.
8. Root Vegetables
For dishes like stews, using root vegetables instead of aubergines would be another tasty option. Rutabagas and turnips are the most recommended closest alternative because of their sweet savory taste. They can also add a hint of spiciness which eggplants don’t have. Ultimately, these veggies are also mild in taste and provide a satisfying bite.
If you are willing to experiment in your recipe, other root veggies like beets, jicama, radish, yams, and parsnips would also work in dishes needing eggplants. Note that each of these root veggies have their characteristic flavor but if you’re needing them as an ingredient for adding texture to your meal then these are also tasty substitutes.
Carrots also belong in root vegetables but we’re separating it from the group because this veggie has an especially recognizable taste.
Like eggplants, carrots are sweet and have dense flesh that turns softer the more you cook it. Its carroty flavor can influence the flavor of a recipe so it’s important to use it sparingly or make other adjustments in the other ingredients.
Carrots are added in various recipes from savory dishes to baked goods. It’s also tasty on its own when eaten raw or mixed in salads. In ratatouille, carrots make for a great substitute for eggplant.
10. Bell peppers
Bell peppers, especially roasted ones, are a delicious alternative to eggplants. Like turnips, this option can give a zing to your recipes.
With its veggie sweetness, bell peppers are perfect to pair with meat dishes and sauté recipes. Aside from adding texture and adding sweet notes, bell peppers don’t have a lot of similarities to eggplants especially in the kind of earthy umami flavor the latter has.
An excellent healthy substitute to aubergines which many might be unfamiliar with is okra. It’s often sold cheap and some people dislike its slimy texture. Still, it’s a great alternative for eggplants in both taste and texture.
Cooking okra makes it a lot softer and creates a mushy texture like eggplants. Its consistency can be crisp and juicy when raw or dense and creamy when cooked. If you’re not a fan of its sliminess, there are some cooking tips like soaking it in vinegar to avoid that slime.
Okra has a sweet, earthy flavor comparable to eggplants but its grassy notes make it more distinct. You can do a lot of cooking with okra like sautéing, roasting, grilling or eating it raw.
Tomatoes belong in the same infamous nightshade plant family as eggplants. If you’re looking for a rich umami taste, using red or green tomatoes would be good.
There are thousands of recipes you can use tomatoes in like pizza, stews, salads, pastas, and even beverages. Dishes like ratatouille that need eggplants can taste great with tomatoes instead.
If you’re eating tomatoes raw, it has a comparable crisp to eggplants but it is a lot juicier. If added as an ingredient, depending on the cooking, it can also provide the same mushy consistency or a fuller bite. Whichever it is, tomatoes are delicious alternatives that work for a lot of recipes needing eggplants.
The choices in this list are nutritious and delicious eggplant substitutes for your recipes. The closest alternatives to aubergines are definitely eggplant varieties. Other veggies listed above work just as well but each has its own recognizable taste that may affect the taste of your dish. Consider the characteristics you’re looking for so you can choose the best and tastiest alternative to use.