Aubergines have many different names, including eggplant, melongene, brinjal and guinea squash – but whatever you call your aubergine, we've got a recipe for you! Aubergines are a nightshade and are a member of the Solanaceae plant family – and they are actually closely related to tomatoes and potatoes. Aubergines are actually hugely versatile – they can be boiled, mashed, pureed, fried and baked and they can make a really yummy alternative to potatoes.

Some recipes state that aubergines need to be salted – meaning that salt is sprinkled on them before cooking to draw out excess moisture and to reduce bitterness. In some cases, salting is necessary – in aubergines that are older, or particularly large, they may have more moisture and they may be more bitter in flavour. However, younger aubergines or baby aubergines tend to be fine without the need for salting. Whether you salt your aubergine or not depends on your personal preference and what you're going to use the aubergine for – but just remember that salting your aubergine will make your final dish to a little saltier, so taste it before adding any extra salt or pepper.

Aubergines are delicious when soft – they have a creamy, smooth texture and a lovely savoury flavour, but they are also delicious when crisp. Aubergines are low in calories and fat, and although they tend to absorb any fat you cook them in, they also absorb flavours too. Simmer them in curries or stews and they will soak up all of the flavour like an edible sponge.

Aubergines have a rich, savoury flavour when roasted, making them an excellent match for strong flavours – try pairing them with garlic, lemon, spices, chilli or paprika. They can stand up to strong flavours, so don't be afraid to experiment with them!