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Posts Tagged ‘peppers’

Last night, I had a date. A date with an eggplant.

Eggplant and I have had a touch-and-go relationship. Well, actually, there’s never been much touching. Maybe a one-night stand at my favorite Sri Lankan restaurant where they actually know how to prepare eggplant. Usually, though, my relationship with eggplant consists of me finding it in mediocre grilled vegetable sandwiches that are the only thing on the menu I can eat. The eggplant is always squishy.

So I tried last night to make amends with eggplant and cook something delicious. Here was my game plan: fried polenta, broiled eggplant, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted Anaheim pepper, balsamic onions. Pretty much everything I read recommended some combination of eggplant-tomato-pepper. Makes sense, as they’re all in season around the same time.

By the way, did you know eggplant is a berry? And in the same family as tomatoes? Never woulda guessed.

Anyway, the players:
– Balsamic onions: Slice an onion (I used red) into rings and saute over medium-low heat in olive oil until translucent and wiggly. Move to a bowl and cover in balsamic vinegar. Allow to steep until you’re ready to use them.
– Roasted pepper: I roasted my Anaheim pepper directly over the stove flame. I’m not sure I like setting things kind-of on fire in my kitchen. However, it worked well.

– Sun-dried tomatoes: Reconstituted in olive oil, which I then used to brush on the eggplant.
– Eggplant: Sliced into 1/2″ circles and salted for quite a while — an hour? more? Broiled for 5-ish minutes each side as in this recipe.
– Polenta: Pre-made polenta roll (will try to make my own soon), sliced into 1/2″ circles and pan-fried in olive oil.

The results?

Really good! The polenta had a little bit of a crust and lent a sweetness to the dish’s foundation. The eggplant was not squishy and had remarkable flavor — I think I’ll peel it next time, as the skins got a little tough. The tomatoes were just a little tangy and chewy, providing a nice complement to the roasted pepper. The balsamic onions, though, were what really tied the dish together, picking up on the tanginess of the tomatoes while making the polenta and eggplant more interesting.

I am so making this again. I really surprised myself!

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Alarm clock goes off. 6 AM on a Saturday. Gross. I flop out of bed and manage to grab a hoodie and my keys through the fog of slumber. There are a few cats meandering the streets, but that’s about it. It’s early. It’s dark. I’m tired.

But I’m happy. Or I will be. Early Saturday morning can only mean one thing: I’m working the farmers’ market again!

This is a real tea towel that we had around, so we hung it up today. Love it. I feel almost as happy as they look. After some coffee and an apple.

Today was a great day at the farmers’ market. We had insanely sweet Gala apples, lots of our organic dry farmed Early Girl tomatoes (our main focus), giant Walla Walla onions easily six inches in diameter, and some beautiful purple bell peppers and Anaheim peppers:

Will someone get on it and make me some sock yarn in those colors? I love all the purple we ended up having today at the stand; between the bell peppers, our cabbage, the red Italian Torpedo onions, and our purple flowers, I’m in color heaven.

So, as I was saying, it was a great day to be selling at the farmers’ market. The sun came out about 7:30, and there were a lot of happy people walking around, looking for the last remnants of summer’s stone fruit, getting serious about beets (so many beautiful beet greens!), buying up summer squash and zucchini flowers… the vendor two stalls down brought his mandolin, so we even had lovely tunes intermittently throughout the day.

One of the best parts about the market is the kids. One kid came up to the stand with his mom, who was buying tomatoes. He told me and my co-worker we “looked funny with our aprons on.” “Oh?” I asked, “And what do we look like?” He thought a bit, and responded, “Tomatoheads!”

You know, there are worse things to be.

Check out these conjoined tomatoes! We usually snag the funny-looking tomatoes and put them on display near our scale. I thought these were just too cute, being joined at the stem and all.

I’m always impressed by how red our tomatoes are. And part of the reason they taste SO GOOD (and why any fresh tomato will taste way better than conventional tomatoes) is because they’re allowed to ripen on the plant. According to my hero Alton Brown of Good Eats (from whom I get much of my food knowledge), industrial tomatoes — those sold in big grocery stores, even if they are organic — are picked when they’re just starting to blush. They’re then put in a room with chemicals that make them redden. Now, they may get red… but their ripening, or sugar development, stops the moment they’re picked. They may get prettier, but they’ll never get tastier.

And that’s why tomatoes from your garden or local farmer are downright yummier — because they’re actually ripe. I thought I didn’t like tomatoes until this summer. What I realized was I do like tomatoes. Real tomatoes.

Speaking of tomatoes… and tea towels:

I’m not going to get into details right now, but I will tell you that the stains are from tomatoes, and that this probably saved us half a roll of paper towels today! Stay tuned for total crafty and veggie dorkiness.

P.S. Obtained new Mason-Dixon book. Overcome with sudden urge to add to my kitchen cotton yarn stash. Predict I will not be able to resist the appeal of more knit objects in my kitchen.

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