- Sweet Corn
- Head Lettuce
- Red Onion
- Sweet Pepper
- Serrano & Jalapeno Peppers
- Japanese Eggplant
- Italian Eggplant
Eggplant season! Which means that any day now we should begin to see free boxes of Valley Flora eggplant kicked to the curb in front of CSA members' houses (true story, photo taken last fall at an anonymous location in Bandon).
Eggplant is one of those things - like fennel - that struggles to gain traction with some folks. I'm not sure if it's a texture thing (it can be rubbery if undercooked), or a flavor thing, or the sheer overwhelm of "what do I do with it?" But for whatever reason it's not the most appreciated of vegetables (er, fruits actually) in the CSA. Me personally, I swoon over eggplant. The colors, the shapes, and the fact that it's a fantastic vehicle for olive oil and salt. My go-to weekly eggplant indulgence at this time of year is to slice the Italian ones into 1/4" thick rounds, brush them on both sides with olive oil, and then put them under the broiler for a few minutes until they begin to get crispy brown. Flip them and brown the other side equally. I sprinkle them with salt and then eat them a million ways: slathered with homemade pesto; in sandwiches with fresh tomato and basil; in lasagne (instead of noodles, or in addition to); next to caramelized fennel and Walla Walla sweets; chopped up with cukes, tomatoes and peppers to make a deluxe greek salad. Something about the char-broiling brings out an umame flavor explosion that sends me. Like, who needs steak?
Last night I cut up a pile of the Japanese variety into 1/4" rounds and did a hot-wok cook with olive oil and salt, letting the rounds get browned and crispy in places. Super fast and easy if you don't want to hassle with the broiler and the brush and the flipping.
If you want to take eggplant to the next level, and without a lot of effort, Eggplant Chermoula might be the best recipe ever. We discovered this dish in Yotam Ottolenghi's incredible cookbook, Jerusalem, and it's become a go-to "fast food" for us in August/September. It riffs on North African flavors with a blend of spices that infuses the eggplant as it becomes silky with baking.
I'd say that if you are someone who needs eggplant inspiration in general, Ottolenghi needs to become your new best friend. He's got a bunch of cookbooks you could buy (chock full of all kinds of incredible recipes), but I also discovered this morning that he has a website with all his best eggplant recipes from his various cookbooks in one place! Go there, be inspired! And maybe with Ottolenghi's help we can keep VF eggplant off the streets of Bandon.
And in parting: corn as high a draft horse's eye. (Actually, much higher! It's towering over Jack this year, and he's one tall horse!)
Enjoy those super-sweet, super-fat ears this week!