Look for: Smooth, glossy skins without wrinkles or spongy spots; each eggplant should feel heavy for its size.
Prep: Slice into 1⁄2-inch-thick rounds (peeling is optional).
Braise: Cut eggplant slices into cubes. Mix with an 8-ounce jar of salsa. Pour into a pan and place over medium heat. Cover and cook, stirring often, until thick, about 15 minutes.
Grill: Preheat grill. Brush eggplant slices lightly with extra-virgin olive oil. Place over medium-high heat and grill, turning once, until browned, about 8 minutes.
Roast: Preheat oven to 500°F. Brush both sides of eggplant slices with 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil and arrange on a baking sheet or pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Roast, turning once halfway through cooking, until tender, about 15 minutes.
Sauté: Cut eggplant slices into cubes; mix with 2 teaspoons salt. Let stand for 5 minutes, then blot dry with paper towels. Heat 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the eggplant; cook until tender, stirring often, about 4 minutes.
Look for: Small, white, unbruised bulbs with brilliant green stalks and feathery fronds.
Prep: Cut off the stalks and fronds where they meet the bulb, remove any damaged outer layers, cut 1⁄4 inch off the bottom and remove the core.
Braise: Slice bulb into 1-inch pieces. Heat 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add fennel and 2 teaspoons dried rosemary, crushed. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add 1⁄2 cup dry white wine (or dry vermouth). Cover, reduce heat and cook until tender, about 15 minutes.
Roast: Preheat oven to 500°F. Slice bulb into 1⁄4-inch pieces. Spread on a baking sheet or in a pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Coat with 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil. Roast, turning once halfway through cooking, until tender and beginning to brown, 18 to 20 minutes.
Steam: Slice bulb into 1-inch pieces. Place in a steamer basket over 2 inches of water (with 1 teaspoon mustard seeds and bay leaves added to it) in a large pot set over high heat. Cover and steam until tender, about 15 minutes.