Valley Bounty: August 23, 2014: Eggplant
Glossy, purple, pear-shaped eggplants are a beauty of August, but they’re not alone in the eggplant category this time of year. Eggplants can be white, orange or speckled; long and skinny, or small and round. Allow the size and shape to mold your meal: use the small ones on kebabs coated in olive oil; chop long skinny ones to sauté with ample cumin; grill or roast the traditional fat slices. Eggplant can also be preserved by drying or freezing—enjoy it on pizza or in Eggplant Parmesan all winter long! Find more eggplant-inspirations below!
By Abby Getman of Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA)
Meggin Thwing Eastman has a library of great recipes to use on her blog, the Happy Valley Locavore, but this pizza with roasted eggplant puree is a tried and true crowd pleaser.
Springfield Farmers’ Market Manager, Belle Rita Novak, wowed the folks from The Kitchen Garden a few years ago with this Caponata (the recipe freezes well too!).
Try Red Fire Farm’s Garlic and Herb Ratatouille
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion (opt.), chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1 small eggplant, cubed
2-3 large tomatoes
3 to 4 small zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 Tbs. fresh, chopped basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
In a 4-quart Dutch oven or saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add eggplant and half the garlic; stir until coated with oil. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep vegetables from sticking. Add tomatoes, zucchini, and herbs; mix well. Cover and cook over low heat about 15 minutes, or until eggplant is tender but not too soft. Add rest of garlic and cook one more minute.
Roasted or grilled slices freeze really well and make it easy to make eggplant parmesan or use in lasagnas. Grilled eggplant loves a bit of oil, salt, and pepper, and can be frozen in storage bags once cooled. For roasted eggplant, I usually salt and bread some slices and bake in the oven until crispy but not browned. You can pan fry battered eggplant before freezing as well. These methods make for easy incorporation into cheesy casseroles.
Eggplant purees freeze pretty well: baba ghanoush and other eggplant dips can be portioned out and frozen—they’re a great treat to have on hand for hosting! You can also roast eggplant halves, scoop out the innards, and freeze that to make into dips or casseroles during the winter.
Red Fire Farm also has tips on preserving eggplant. In my house, I cut the eggplant (any kind) into ¼ inch slices, salt, and put in an electric dehydrator until very thin and crisp. If thoroughly dehydrated, it can be stored in an air-tight jar for use all winter long and doesn’t take up any freezer space!