Eggplants are such a versatile vegetable. It can be a main course, a starter or even an afternoon snack. And that’s exactly the point of this super simple eggplant appetizer. You can have it cold or hot. With bread, crackers, pasta, meat, chicken or even pure, straight from the jar.
Me, whenever I can, I like to make this ahead and keep it on my fridge. I do the oven version and it’s a great thing to have in hand just to upgrade a simple meal or to impress your unexpected guests paired with a nice, crusty, piece of bread.
All you have to do is chop some vegetables, season it, and put it in the oven. The thing is, for the eggplant to get really soft, it takes quite some time. Around 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let’s do some math. If you add this, to the time you’ll spend chopping and preparing everything, you’ll need maybe 1h30, maybe more to get it all done.
Well, if you’re not in a hurry, just go for the oven version. There’s absolute no mystery. The step by step is almost the same and the oven will do all the hard work for you. All you need is just a little patience. However, I got home starving and I thought it might exist an easy quick way to make my favorite appetizer since I had an eggplant standing on my fridge for quite a while now.
That, together with my unbeatable wish of proposing easy and fast alternatives for a more balanced food habit, paired with my eternal curiosity to find out how far I can take my old pal the microwave brought us to this: eggplant appetizer MICROWAVE version.
Let’s get to this step by step of my way of making this recipe considering what I had on the fridge/pantry, but don’t forget that you can totally adapt the spices and ingredients according to what you like more or less.
Eggplant appetizer (baked on the microwave)
1 medium eggplant
1 cup of bell peppers (if you’re team bell pepper)
½ red onion
1 crushed garlic clove
2 seedless tomatoes
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
1 tablespoon of rosemary
2 tablespoons of tomato extract
Salt, chilly flakes to taste
Parsley (to serve)
Olive oil (to serve)
Start by washing and chopping all the ingredients (tomato, eggplant, onion, bell peppers… and whatever else you may wish to add). I do strips or dices for my eggplants, but you can eve do circles if you wish. Just keep in mind that the smaller your pieces are, the easier it’ll be for it to cook. And that’s pretty much the same for the other ingredients.
If you wish, you can start by cutting the eggplant and let it soak in water while you deal with the rest. It’ll help to get rid of the bitterness of it. You can also peel your eggplant if you want to, but I’m all for not wasting good food.
Now is time for you to choose a nice large bowl that fits all the ingredients and that’s microwave safe. Just remembering that plastic (except otherwise stated) is not suitable for microwave. Mix very well the eggplant, tomato, onion (I used a red one, for it tastes sweeter, but you can use whatever kind you want), garlic (I like to crush it) and the bell peppers – I like to put different colors of bell peppers because I think it looks pretty, but you can use whatever bell pepper you like, or no bell pepper at all -, with the salt, pepper and rosemary.
You don’t fancy rosemary? Or you just don’t have it on your pantry? That’s just fine. Good old oregano or dried basil will do just fine and taste awesome.
Now is the moment of truth. Hey ho, let’s microwave it. If you have a microwave lid, you can use it. If you don’t, no need for panic. Just cover the bowl with a soup plate or with plastic film (just place a few holes on top of it). The important thing is not to allow the heat to escape all over the microwave.
You want to start with 5 minutes on high. One thing I have learned with my microwave adventures is that’s always good to stop the cooking in the middle, stir the ingredients a bit, and keep it going till the end. In other words, we’ll do 10 minutes total, on high, in 2 rounds. 5 minutes, take it off, stir it, get it back into the microwave, and cook it 5 minutes more.
*Remember when I told you that if you want to make this dish in the oven the step by step would be almost the same? So… The difference is right here. Instead of choosing a bowl that goes in the microwave, you want an oven safe tray and you may want to choose one that’s large enough for the vegetables to be as spread as possible.
Once it’s done (whether you’re making the oven or the microwave version) I add 2 table spoons of tomato extract (just because I like it and because I think it makes it taste even creamier) and a good pinch of smoked paprika, which gives it a special taste, but this is a completely optional step. Or replaceable. You can add balsamic vinegar, for example. Or soy sauce, if you like it (just be careful with the salt). Olives goes really well with it, or even raisins for a bittersweet touch. Here’s the moment where you just let your creativity go wild.
To serve, drizzle a bit of yummy olive oil on top and fresh parsley if available. Besides being super pretty, it’ll add a bit of freshness to the dish.
For storing, cover with a tight fitting lid or cling wrap in the fridge and it’ll last for about 5 to 7 days. I think it tastes even better if you let it sit in the fridge overnight.
Another tasty ideia is that you can also use it as a pie filling. Any pie. Whether you make your dough from scratch or you buy it at the supermarket you’ll add a super nice vegetarian touch to it with this eggplant juicy filling. Remember that no flour pie crust we made here? Look how pretty it looks.
It’s so easy you don’t need any video to explain a step by step, but I did make one just to prove to you that it works!