Summer is here in all its glory. This is truly the time of bounty, the time where I spend all of my money on heirloom tomatoes, and hobble back from the farmer’s market with heavy bags of stone fruit, corn, and peppers. Me being a farmer’s market fiend (along with a veg fiend, but of course) adores ogling all the vibrant colors of the produce, and I also dig that everything is grown locally. When I am up at the stand making my choices, I can actually chit-chat with the farmer who grew these very same fruits and veggies! Crazy, right?! Sadly, it is pretty crazy in our day and age.
But let’s keep the farmer’s market love going. Try to support your local farmers- whether by attending a market, or even just by shopping at the grocery store. I’ve noticed Wegman’s, Whole Foods, Stew Leonard’s, and Trader Joe’s have had local produce available, with signs detailing where the fruits and veggies are grown. Bravo 🙂 Hopefully, more grocery chains will start to incorporate locally grown produce into their line-ups. Good for the planet (less travel time), good for the farmers, good for your belly (the produce is harvested later, allowing more time for it to ripen on the tree/vine)!
Here is a recipe that I whipped up using a bucket of Japanese eggplant that I purchased at my farmer’s market for $3. It is from this fabulous farm that is not only local, but organic. I know, all this for $3, whaaaat?
This recipe is adapted from Mollie Katzen’s The Vegetable Dishes I Can’t Live Without, a thin hardcover book with simple, yet innovative recipes. I would describe them as elegant, often consisting of a handful of ingredients (minus some curries), but having surprising preparations. She also leaves helpful notes at the top of each recipe, for either troubleshooting or for providing ideas to modify the recipe to your fancy. In short, Mollie rocks.
Garlic-forward, with nubbins of red onion, and the pop of mint, this Thai dish is aromatic and punchy. The eggplant is succulent and plump, as it has absorbed all of its flavorful cooking broth. I served mine with steaming hot brown jasmine rice and a toothsome bean (Rancho Gordo Yellow Indian Woman Beans). I suggest you do the same, but also suggest you heat the beans in a little water so they don’t dry out like mine. A beefsteak tomato with tahini + salt was enjoyed on the side.
Spicy Thai Eggplant with Mint
- 7 Japanese eggplants or 2 regular eggplants
- 1 tbsp neutral-tasting oil (I used avocado oil)
- 1 medium red onion, sliced
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp minced garlic (yes, that is correct, two tablespoons)
- 3/4 tsp minced thai chile, or dried red pepper flakes (feel free to use more!)
- 1/2 cup water, divided
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1.5 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
- 1/2 cup packed mint leaves, chopped
- Cut the eggplants into 1/2 inch rounds (for Japanese eggplants) or into 1/2 pieces for regular eggplant.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion, eggplant, and salt. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the garlic, chile, and 1/4 cup water. Cook for another 5 minutes.
- While the eggplant is cooking, mix the sugar, soy sauce, lime juice, with the remaining 1/4 cup water and stir until the sugar dissolves. Pour this mixture over the eggplant and add in the chopped mint. Cover the pan, and turn the heat to low. Cook for a further 10 minutes, stirring often.
- Feast away! This is delicious served piping hot with brown jasmine rice and your favorite bean.