Common Ground has teamed up with Turning Point Farm this season to help CSA members find interesting ways to enjoy their shares. Even if you’re not a CSA member, we think you’ll find lots of useful information in these posts about seasonal veggies you’re likely to encounter at farmers markets and in stores. Let us know what you think!
Week #15: Summer Squash (Bennings Green Patty Pan, Yellow Straightneck & Lemon), Tall Utah Celery, Rainbow Chard, Yukon Potatoes, Black Beauty Eggplant, Country Fair & Marketmore Cucumbers, Black & Costata Zucchini and Tomatoes
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When I was growing up, my family knew of exactly one way to cook eggplant: slice it, bread it, sizzle it in a skillet, melt some cheese on top, ladle on some red sauce, and grab a fork. The end result was basically unrecognizable as a vegetable, but it sure was tasty.
Here’s a recipe that doesn’t hide the garden origins of this dish, and includes a bit of bake time, but it comes pretty close to the Eggplant Parmesan I remember as a kid.
Beyond the Parm, there are lots of other avenues to explore with this luscious vegetable, so if you’re feeling a little adventurous, here are some ideas.
My first inclination when I get hold of a nice eggplant is always toward Baba Ganoush, that creamy, smokey Middle Eastern dip that pairs so well with flatbread and stuffed grape leaves. If you’ve never made it, you might be surprised at how quickly it comes together. This recipe from the Minimalist Baker is about as simple as it gets.
Tip: you can find good quality tahini at a good price at Aihua International Market. It’s a versatile component in everything from hummus to halvah, and makes a super salad dressing, so don’t hesitate to buy some for this recipe. I guarantee you’ll find other yummy things to do with it.
Another classic eggplant dish is Greek moussaka, a casserole of eggplant, ground meat (you can sub in lentils for the meat if you like), and a creamy cheese sauce, with endless variations, some of which include a layer of potatoes. (And, hey, we’ve got those in our box this week!)
Making moussaka is similar to making lasagna in that you prepare all the individual parts and then layer the dish and bake it. So takes a minute. But like a good lasagna, the results are worth it.
When I was living in Los Angeles I would regularly go to a little Italian restaurant for a plate of mostaccioli melanzane, a baked pasta dish with bits of eggplant and ricotta mixed throughout. Nowadays I make a simple skillet version with crisped eggplant, red sauce and shaped pasta. It’s pretty fine.
Again, you can vary this one to your heart’s content. Mushrooms are good in it, as are bits of zucchini. You can use fresh tomatoes in place of canned, bake it in the oven or serve it right from the skillet. You can’t go wrong.
And finally, a pretty one for your Labor Day entertaining. I’d serve this with a toasty baguette and call it dinner. You?
Have fun with your veggies this week!