In your farm share this week: Tomatoes, Summer squash/Eggplant/Peppers, Head Lettuce, Onions/Garlic, Celery/Rhubarb, Potatoes, Scallions/Leek, U-pick Cherry Tomatoes, Basil/Cilantro/Mint
Eggplant is one of those vegetables that some people love. Everyone else falls somewhere between indifference and disgust. For those who fall in the later category, there there’s hope. Maybe you’ve had a bad experience with eggplant that can be remedied or perhaps you haven’t had it prepared the right way. First, it is important to get good eggplant. If eaten fresh, New City Farm is a great place to get your eggplant. If you have to store the eggplant, try putting it in the crisper drawer. Don’t hold onto it for more than a week because it can start to get bitter. The skin of small, young eggplant is nutritious and delicious to eat, but you might want to peel the skin of larger eggplants off, though it is still edible. One trick when cooking with eggplant is to salt the fresh flesh before cooking. Salting and letting stand for twenty minutes can help firm up the flesh, providing a better texture and keep the vegetable from soaking up too much oil. Salting can also help pull out any bitter liquid from the flesh, especially in older, larger eggplant.
So lets do something with our eggplants.
1/4 cup long-grain or jasmine rice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 large tomatoes, diced
1/2 pound ground lamb or beef chuck (not lean)
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Hollow out each eggplant with a melon-ball cutter, working from bottom end and leaving about 1/3 inch eggplant flesh along interior walls. Rinse rice in a sieve under cold water until water runs clear. Drain well.
Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Fry pine nuts, stirring frequently, until golden, about 3 minutes, then transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Sauté onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, until golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer 1/2 cup onion mixture to bowl with pine nuts. Add stock, tomatoes, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to skillet and simmer, uncovered, while stuffing eggplant.
Add rice, meat, allspice, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to bowl with onion mixture and mix well with your hands.
Stuff eggplant with meat mixture, being careful not to pack tightly (rice will expand during cooking). Transfer stuffed eggplants to skillet with tomato sauce and simmer, covered, carefully turning once, until rice is cooked through, 50 minutes to 1 hour (cut 1 in half to test).
If sauce is watery, transfer eggplant to a plate and boil sauce, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, 3 to 5 minutes, then adjust seasoning if necessary. Return stuffed eggplant to sauce. Squeeze lemon over dish and sprinkle with parsley before serving.
A couple additional recipes to try this week: