Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Don't Fear the Eggplant

The week 8 share includes: Tomatoes, Eggplants or Peppers, Basil, Lettuce, Onions, Cucumbers and/or Summer Squash, Parsley, Kale, Beets, and Radicchio.

The hoophouse vegetables are on in full force this week, which means lots of tomatoes for the members.

One of our Ontonagon members will be receiving these in their
share tomorrow.
And, lots of eggplant. People have strong opinions about eggplant. I myself LOVE it (I know I say that about almost everything we grow, but remember that I am the one who puts together the seed order, so it follows that I would be fond of what gets planted.) so much that I go out of my way to find imperfections in the eggplant we harvest so that I can put it in our fridge instead of sell it.

Seriously, I harvested about 35 eggplants today (it was our small harvest day) and I wanted to keep them all.

I left this little guy on the plant for Saturday harvest.
But I know that not everyone feels this way about eggplant. A lot of members are wary of them. I think that  the wariness might be a result of poor quality grocery store eggplant - it just doesn't compare to garden grown.

So, I came up with a really simple one dish dinner that showcases the eggplant in this week's share. It can be adjusted to the whims of the cook in infinite ways (add some beets or summer squash, use basil instead of parsley) or cooked exactly as written. I included the radicchio in the recipe as well, for those of you who are not into bitter salad greens. Cooked radicchio is still bitter, but the bitterness is less intense. 

One Dish Eggplant Dinner

Those of you who are not meat eaters can omit the meat, add 2 T olive oil and a 14 ounce can of garbanzo beans. Begin the recipe by cooking the eggplant, spices, and olive oil together, add the drained beans with the tomatoes and radicchio. Cinnamon may seem like a strange choice here, but it is commonly included in savory Greek and Middle Eastern dishes and it really enhances the flavor of eggplant. 
  • 1 lb ground lamb, beef, or turkey (I used lamb) + one tablespoon olive oil if the meat is very lean
  • 2 small onions, cut into eighths
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 small eggplants or one medium eggplant, sliced into quarter inch rounds and chopped into bite sized pieces 
  • 1 large or two small slicer tomatoes, chopped into rough 1/2 inch cubes (or any combination of tomatoes from the share to make about a cup of chopped tomatoes)
  • 1 head radicchio, quartered and sliced
  • 5-6 stems of parsley, finely chopped
  1. Brown the meat, onions, garlic, and spices in a large saute pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring frequently, until the eggplant is very tender but not falling apart, about 15 minutes.
  3. When the eggplant is soft, stir in the tomatoes, radicchio, and parsley. Continue stirring until the tomatoes are soft, but not mushy, and the radicchio is wilted, 3 - 5 minutes.
  4. Serve with plain brown rice or pilaf.
The purple eggplant and radicchio quickly fade to brown as they cook,
so I'm afraid the finished dish isn't very photogenic. Ugly food
can still be tasty food.

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