Ode to Eggplant

2 Sep

Even a hot droughty summer must be good for something!

Turns out it’s eggplant!  As corn crops wither in the fields, eggplants are thriving.  One of my favorite CSA farms is even calling in the gleaners to harvest the eggplant overload.  Other members of the nightshade family – like peppers and tomatoes – are also doing well this hot dry summer.  But this is a blog about my love for eggplant…

The farmers market is overflowing with eggplant.  And the big purple Italian variety is just the beginning!

Striped calliope and easter egg varieties add some pizazz.

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The color palate really opens up with the Japanese eggplant varieties – like so many colorful fingers reaching out you to be purchases and put into a stir-fry.

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These little Thai beauties look as fun as they are delicious.  Like little green beach balls just longing to swim in a coconut milk sea!

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It seems every season I discover some new veggie delight at the farmers’ market.  This year – bitter eggplant.  So colorful, so cute, can they really be so bitter?

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Sliced open they something in between tomato slices, candy rings, and flower petals.

The taste verdict – bitter!  No one was kidding when they named these bitter eggplants!  Very much akin to bitter melon if you’ve ever tried those.

But bitter doesn’t mean bad.  It’s a taste that takes some acquiring, that’s for sure.  but the bitterness of some vegetables is actually nicely suited for the spicy curries or chilli sauces or pickles that are made in the zestier corners of the globe.

I stir-fried these bitter babies with a hefty amount of lemongrass and cilantro, and some red chillies, then doused it all in mirin and soy sauce.  The bitterness was calmed a bit by the sweat sake sauce and complimented well by the fresh citrusy herbs.  A lovely lunch on top of some soba noodles.

Be sure to keep an eye out for the exciting eggplant varieties of summer!

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