This roasted sesame-garlic eggplant is a simple, flavor-packed side dish that's sure to wow a crowd. Cubed eggplant is roasted until tender and caramelized and then tossed in sweet and tangy sesame-garlic sauce. A finishing sprinkle of fresh cilantro and sesame seeds adds a pop of color and a teeny, tiny crunch.
During a recent trip to South Carolina with Dan's family, I had the most gloriously tasty sesame eggplant.
The eggplant itself was tender, caramelized, and drenched with sauce. And the sauce? Well, it was subtly sweet, garlicky, and brimming with toasted sesame oil.
I'm tellin' you, I could have eaten this eggplant by the bucketful.
I've been toying with a healthier rendition ever since—because seriously, there was probably a ⅓ cup of oil in just one small portion, and although I'm certainly not oil-phobic, I want to be able to eat yummy sesame eggplant every day without feeling groggy and weighed down afterwards.
And so, yes, this version is way less oily than its mentor and a bit brighter and lighter, too. Perfect for the transition from steamy summer moments to crispier fall feelings.
To make this roasted sesame-garlic eggplant, you'll start by washing up two medium to medium-large globe eggplants. I'm sure other varieties of eggplant (e.g., Japanese) would work well here, too, but you'd have to use several since they're considerably smaller than globe eggplant.
Once you've washed your eggplants, slice off the ends and cut into ¾-inch cubes. There's no need to remove the skin. In fact, I quite love the pretty purple hue it lends to the dish. But of course, if you really prefer it not be there, then do feel free to peel it away before slicing and dicing.
Spread the eggplant cubes out over a parchment-lined pan, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, and toss to coat.
Then, pop the pan in the oven and roast for 25 to 35 minutes, or until the eggplant cubes are tender, beginning to caramelize, and have lost their sponginess.
While the eggplant roasts, prepare the sauce.
Simmer minced garlic, rice vinegar, tamari, sesame oil, and maple syrup together for a few minutes, or until the garlic begins to soften and the sauce reduces ever so slightly.
Pour the sauce over the eggplant cubes, toss to coat, and generously sprinkle with fresh cilantro and sesame seeds.
This simple sesame eggplant is delicious served warm or cold and makes an excellent side dish to a variety of meals. If you'd like to serve it as an entree, I recommend pairing it with a bit of warm brown rice or quinoa.
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do. Happy cooking!
Roasted Sesame-Garlic Eggplant
- 2 medium-large globe eggplants, ends trimmed and cut into ¾-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 ½ tablespoons reduced-sodium tamari
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Sesame seeds (optional garnish)
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a large baking tray with parchment paper.
- Spread the eggplant out over the pan, drizzle with the olive oil, and toss to coat.
- Roast the eggplant for 25 to 35 minutes, tossing once, or until tender and beginning to caramelize (you want it to have lost its spongy quality).
- Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Add the garlic, rice vinegar, tamari, sesame oil, and maple syrup to a medium saucepan. Heat over medium-low and simmer for 4 minutes, or until the garlic softens and the mixture reduces a bit. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
- Once the eggplant is ready, transfer it to a large serving bowl. Drizzle with the sauce and toss to coat. Garnish with the cilantro and sesame seeds (if using).
- Taste and adjust the flavors if desired—to make it saltier, add more tamari; sweeter, add more maple syrup; tangier, add more vinegar.
- Serve immediately.
- Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to two days.
Brittany Audra @ Audra's Appetite says
Sometimes eggplant can be a bit boring and lacking in flavor when served by itself. This sauce looks incredible though!!!
Ileea Gutierrez says
I made it but substituted in the sauce extra virgin olive oil instead of sesame oil, used apple cider vinegar instead of rice vinegar, and I also added some to bake some halved Brussel sprouts and broccoli florets, tossed with olive oil and with sprinkled with kosher salt and pepper. Set oven to 425* for 35-40 mins. It Was DELICIOUS!!! I just wish had nutrition facts.
So glad you enjoyed the recipe, Ileea! Thanks for taking the time to share your additions and substitutions—helpful for me as well as others making the recipe. :)
This sounds delicious, but I didn't plant eggplant in the garden. How do you think it would work with roasted cubed oversized zucchini? Like you would use for relish or stuffing..If I try it, I will try to find my way back to Comments to let you know how it worked. Thank you for sharing your delicious creations !
Hi, Mary! Hmm, I'd be curious to know how it works with zucchini if you give it a try. I think it could work well, just may be a bit juicier than eggplant would be.
Will it really only keep for two days? I wanted to meal prep with this.
Hi, Ruchi! I find the cilantro gets a little iffy if you prep it more than two days in advance; however, you can simply hold off on garnishing until just before serving and that will extend the length of how long the eggplant will keep (probably to a full five days). Enjoy!
Celeste Jackson says
So interesting! A nice diversion from the traditional eggplant recipes. I'll be trying this soon.
Hope you enjoy it!
Heiba Kebbas says
Only had one eggplant on hand so used a block of tofu and ended up with a delicious Chinese-style tofu eggplant dish! Baked the tofu in cubes with a sprinkle of garlic salt. All other steps remained the same! Thank you!
So glad you're enjoying the recipe, Heiba! Thanks for taking time out of your day to come back and share your thoughts and adjustments.
Thank you for this fantastic recipe! Served it tonight using 3 Chinese eggplant with an Asian inspired dinner and even the non-eggplant eaters loved it!
You're welcome! So glad you're enjoying it. Thanks for taking the time to come back and share your rating!
Added canned chickpeas to the eggplant, and instead of warming the sauce separately I added it to the roasting mixture for the last 5-10 minutes. Just had to make it didn’t burn because of the sugar. Omitted cilantro because I didn’t have it. It’s beautiful and flavors work so nicely together. The whole family loved it! Thanks for sharing!
Happy to hear you and your family enjoyed it! Thanks for taking the time to share your feedback and adjustments.
I've been trying to find the perfect sesame sauce for a long time, and this is the best I've had! I used half the amount of rice vinegar, but left everything else the same.
So glad you're enjoying the recipe! And great to know it worked well with halving the vinegar as well. Thanks for taking time out of your day to share your feedback and rating. Means so much. :)
Carmella M ROSENBACH says
I loved Szechuan Eggplant but it is really too spicy for me now that I am a little older, lol. This recipe was easy peasy and soooo yummy. 5 stars!!
So happy to hear you enjoyed it, Carmella! Thanks for taking the time to let me know.