This week’s Farmer’s Market find is Asian Eggplant!
I feel people are a bit intimidated by Eggplant, including myself. I can’t count the number of times I’ve bought a big bulbous eggplant with aspirations of making eggplant parm or baba ganoush… only to be left with an eggplant that I’ve had to throw out. No bueno. Eggplants are intimidating because they’re not a steam or saute and eat type of veggie (well actually they’re a fruit!) More often than not they’re associated with complicated Italian or French dishes where they’re roasted, breaded, marinated, covered in cheese and tomato sauce, or reduced down into a silken sauce which probably involves more spices than you have in your cupboard. Delicious… but when you’re exhausted after a long day, nobody has time to marinate, roast and sauce.
Enter the Asian eggplant! I’ve been having a love affair with Asian eggplants this summer, specifically Japanese and Chinese eggplants! Asian eggplants are longer and skinnier than typical American eggplants. The skin is also thinner and less bitter, so you don’t have to peel them. Also because they are so much skinnier, they have less seeds and are less “slimy” then regular eggplant. This makes them perfect for quick sautes and stirfrys. Also the spongy texture of the eggplant is great for sucking up marinades.
Farmer’s Market Value: Asian eggplants are a great value at the farmer’s market. Asian eggplants are often considered “specialty” veggies in regular grocery stores, so they ratchet up the prices. I picked up a pound of eggplants at the farmer’s market for $2. They were $3 at the regular grocery store. Also they looked a little old and crusty in the store.
What can you do with an Asian Eggplant?
Curried– Eggplants are amazing curried. You could try a thai-style curry dishes like this one- Eggplant Green Curry. I don’t eat many curries with coconut milk because of the calories, so I tend to just do a simple, 10 minute, curried eggplant veggie bowl.
I ate this for lunch today and it was really tasty and took only 30 min to make! All the ingredients are pictured- sliced yellow onion, 2 cloves garlic, 1 eggplant, a handful of green beans, and a handful cilantro. The spices were just Madras Curry ( I like it better than regular curry powder), a bit of cumin and a bit of tumeric. and of course salt and pepper.I also added chicken, not pictured.
To make the bowl, just heat up a little olive oil and cook down the garlic and onions over low heat. While that’s cooking, throw all the spices on your eggplant. Don’t be shy.. spice it up! Add the eggplant to the pan with the garlic and onions. If possible, spread the eggplant out in a single layer and let it cook for a few minutes before you disturb it. The eggplant will look dry and you might be tempted to put more oil on it. Don’t. It’ll release it’s own moisture as it cooks. When the eggplant has softened, add the beans and a tiny bit of water. Let the green beans cook for 2-3 minutes then add the chopped cilantro. I threw in some quinoa, and chicken breast (sauteed first, seasoned with the same seasoning). Looked like this!
Some other Eggplant dishes I’ve tried and liked:
Summer Vegetable Ragout with Exotic Curry Sauce: Delicious but a TON of work. Dating a vegetarian locavore type and want to impress him/her? Make this!
Szechwan Eggplant Stirfry: Chinese recipe. Also a bit time consuming, but delish.
Quinoa Cakes with Eggplant and Tomato Ragu– I made this last week. If I made it again i would use regular old eggplant, but it was pretty darn tasty.
Sambal Eggplant – Feeling adventurous? I’m totally going to try this! Just have to find some subs for the processed stuff (sugar and fish sauce)
There you have it! Summer is drawing to a close, but hopefully there are a few more weeks of eggplant left at the farmer’s market.