eggplant mush

eggplantbaked eggplant

Hardly a glamorous name for a dish – actually it’s so unglamorous we sometimes forget how much we like this. A concoction we made up ourselves, it consists only of roasted eggplant, butter, and onions. There are all sorts of other things you could add, but somehow it never seems necessary. Its toasty sweetness goes perfectly alongside spicy Indian food or something simple like a pork chop, or with middle-eastern flavors like lamb kebabs and yogurt.

baked eggplant

Baked eggplant is a real revelation if you’ve never tried it. Once the insides are soft, they can be scooped out and added to all sorts of things. Baba ganoush is made this way, or you can stirfry the cooked eggplant with curry spices. It completely gets rid of the eggplant’s bitterness and spongy texture, leaving you with a dish that is both silky and sweet. It’s especially a good thing to do with the big purple grocery store eggplants when you can’t get fresh local ones – we find that the two of us can eat two eggplants very quickly this way.

eggplant mush

Eggplant Mush

  • 2 large eggplants
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 400°. Prick the eggplants all over with a fork, set them on a baking sheet (line it with foil to make cleanup easier) and bake until wrinkled and soft, 30-50 minutes depending on their size. Cut them open lengthwise and let cool slightly.

Melt the butter in a heavy skillet and add the onion. Cook slowly until soft and golden. Scrape the eggplant flesh out of its skin and add it to the onions. Turn the heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until the eggplant has broken down and incorporated with the onion – perhaps 20 minutes or so. Salt to taste and serve.

dinner

eggplant

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grilled eggplant caponata

caponata

We eat so much grilled eggplant  during the summer (thanks to the nice folks at Hedlin Family Farms) it’s a little embarrassing. Sometimes we dust it with spices first, but usually we just dress it with olive oil, salt and pepper, grill it till it poofs up and turns golden, then eat it in huge heaps with lamb kebabs or whatever else is on the grill that day. In an attempt to do something different with our weekly poundage of eggplant (plus some of the tomatoes which are beginning to take over the deck), I came up with this caponata. And we’ve made it twice in one week, so I guess it worked pretty well.

eggplant

My approach here is to get all the ingredients except the eggplant mixed together in a big bowl, so all I have to do is take a cutting board down by the grill and dice up the eggplants as they come off the heat. Then I dump them into the dressing and mix everything up together. The flavors sit and blend while we grill the next part of the meal.

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mostly local

the all-local dinner

While I am, in principle, a big fan of the locavore, 100-mile diet movement, I really don’t think I’m ever going to manage to eat one hundred percent local. I’m very fond of olive oil, for instance. And mangoes. But it does give me a thrill when I realize that everything on my plate was produced within a fifty mile radius of my house. This was a recent dinner of grilled lamb chops, Japanese eggplant and asparagus, all purchased at the downtown farmer’s market.

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the last farmer’s market + mizuna pesto

farmer's market haul

The Mount Vernon Farmer’s Market had its final day this weekend, so we made sure to go stock up. Squash, carrots, potatoes, mushrooms, beets, peppers, a pumpkin for the porch and a big bunch of dahlias – we did pretty well. There will still be a few farmstands open, of course, but it’s never as easy as the market for getting all our shopping done with one fell swoop. Ah, well.

mustard greens

Before leaving on our market trip, wondering what we might end up having for dinner, I was paging through The Babbo Cookbook by Mario Batali, and found an enticing picture of lamb rib chops dancing around a pile of something green. It was, apparently, a pesto made of broccoli rabe. What a good idea, I thought, I’ll get some at the farmer’s market and try it out! Naturally, not a single booth was offering it…but Blue Heron Farm did have lovely fresh bunches of mizuna, or Japanese mustard greens. Thinking one bitter green might well replace another, we bought a bunch and proceeded to wing the recipe. Continue reading

the last farmer's market + mizuna pesto

farmer's market haul

The Mount Vernon Farmer’s Market had its final day this weekend, so we made sure to go stock up. Squash, carrots, potatoes, mushrooms, beets, peppers, a pumpkin for the porch and a big bunch of dahlias – we did pretty well. There will still be a few farmstands open, of course, but it’s never as easy as the market for getting all our shopping done with one fell swoop. Ah, well.

mustard greens

Before leaving on our market trip, wondering what we might end up having for dinner, I was paging through The Babbo Cookbook by Mario Batali, and found an enticing picture of lamb rib chops dancing around a pile of something green. It was, apparently, a pesto made of broccoli rabe. What a good idea, I thought, I’ll get some at the farmer’s market and try it out! Naturally, not a single booth was offering it…but Blue Heron Farm did have lovely fresh bunches of mizuna, or Japanese mustard greens. Thinking one bitter green might well replace another, we bought a bunch and proceeded to wing the recipe.

Continue reading

grilled eggplant with Indian spices

eggplant

We wait with great anticipation all year long, waiting for the summer to bring both grilling weather and fresh local eggplant. Once it’s here, we make this recipe repeatedly, regardless of the flavors of the other food we’re eating – it’s just so good.

spiced grilled eggplant

The recipe is from Julie Sahni’s Classic Indian Cooking, although I don’t believe we’ve ever made it quite like the original – it calls for using very small baby eggplants, stuffing them and frying them whole. We prefer slicing slightly larger eggplants (Japanese or Italian, doesn’t matter), coating them in the spices and oil, and grilling them until soft. So all we’ve really borrowed here is the spice blend, and it’s a good one. Continue reading

an old recipe new again

meatballs with bowties and eggplant sauce

A million years ago (give or take a bit) I spent a few months in Italy as part of a geology course I was taking. We stayed in a tiny village in the Marche region, with occasional field trips elsewhere. We did most of our own cooking, under the supervision of our professors (one Italian and one American), and our diet was pretty repetitive: fresh rolls from the bakery down the road for breakfast, spread with chestnut jam; also cornflakes stirred into blueberry yogurt. Sandwiches for lunch, made from very hard rolls and very ripe pecorino (we referred to it as the Stinky Feet Cheese). Dinner was always, always pasta, but fortunately there was some variation in the toppings, many of which were really delicious. Some of my classmates put together a small recipe book, and I continued to make many of my pasta sauces from this collection for many years afterwards.

One of these sauces that was in my regular rotation was made up of sauteed eggplant mixed with sun dried tomatoes, chopped nuts and mascarpone cheese. It had a great nutty, savory taste and was a nice change from the endless red sauce/pesto rotation. As J and I started to phase out high glycemic foods from our diet I stopped making pasta for dinner as a regular thing, and the eggplant sauce disappeared from the repertoire.

Last week, though, as we were staring vacantly at grocery store produce with very little inspiration, we saw some eggplants that looked halfway decent, and J said, “What about that eggplant walnut sauce you used to make? What if we did it with meatballs?” And so we did. Continue reading

Cheese puffs and khachapuri

Friends came over for dinner on Saturday. The weather was actually decent enough that we fired up the grill one last time, producing some truly excellent lemony lamb kebabs and spiced eggplant (I have no pictures, sorry – we ate everything). To go with the lamb and eggplant I whipped up a batch of Khachapurikhachapuri, Georgian cheese-filled yogurt flatbreads (again, forgot to take any pictures before they were gone, but here’s a borrowed image that looks similar). The recipe for these is out of Flatbreads & Flavors by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, and they were described by our friend as tasting like “Mac and cheese in a bun!” I assume that’s a good thing – anyway, I like them. Come to think of it, they’d be really good stuffed with eggplant. Or lamb. Continue reading