I remember when eggplant, like portobello mushrooms, was more or less encountered as a substitution for meat. This often occurs in dishes like eggplant parm, deep-fried so as to give it more texture, or when smothered in sauces, like a thick curry, obscuring the quivering, greyish-purple stuff that it is. But I think eggplant is great when prepared with some meat, as its spongey flesh absorbs flavors readily, making it easy to use less of the actual meat in question. And it’s a good way of enjoying eggplant—seeing, … Read More
When the farmers market still looks like summer but the air starts to feel like fall (and I absolutely love it when and if this happens), it’s a good time to make a slow-simmered vegetable curry. We’re not quite in winter squash season, and lord knows we make all sorts of wintery stews with those. And roots? They can wait in the ground for now. So let’s enjoy the harvest’s final hurrahs of a certain nightshade that must be cooked … Read More
Last summer, ten friends and I kissed the summer goodbye with a beach weekend and a clambake. I wrote afterward that there was no greater communal food activity than this, if you’re by the shore with many people. I take that back just a little. Because for all the seaweed we let sizzle on molten-hot rocks, and crustaceans that reddened atop those before cracking open, there is another awesome group food that should not be overlooked in the summer: paella.
What do you get when you mix two classic condiments: a creamy roasted eggplant dip and a tangy, fresh tomato-based salsa? A colorful cross. And why not? I always liked the brightness of adding fresh citrus juice to roasted or grilled eggplant. It sort of livens the greyish thing up. I also get frustrated, sometimes, spilling the juice of a fresh tomato salsa while trying to scoop it up with a tortilla chip. Or getting one piece of onion on … Read More
Whenever I have a plethora of random vegetables with no assigned purposes, I start to panic think along the lines of stir-frying them. This tends to happen a lot in the summer, when stockpiles of goods from farmers market strolls begin to overbear my fridge. Everything looks so good, and there are so many kinds of vegetables in season now–eggplants and peppers, beans and leafy greens–it’s like looking at a menu that you want to order everything from. But fortunately … Read More
Some like it smoky. If you’ve been cooking out a great deal this summer, perhaps you’ve grown fond of the lingering woodsmoke scent in your hair and clothes (designer fragrance idea: “Campfire”) and that bitter, mineral edge on slightly burnt food. You can embrace this essence when cooking indoors as well; I especially like it on eggplant, and to reinforce that smokiness, with a hint of chipotle, too.
I’m fond of using up kitchen “scraps.” I was working in the kitchen of a soon-to-be new restaurant in Brooklyn, when I scraped together a family meal (aka nosh for the staff) using some celery trimmings, chicken legs, and somewhat dried-up knobs of ginger after they were grated to the last stubs. Here, I’ve salvaged the stems of a leafy bunch of Swiss chard to chop finely and quick-pickle, and pair with capers and crumbles of feta cheese in a … Read More
I had guests over for dinner last weekend and came up with a five-person entree on the fly. I’d zoomed through the Greenmarket, picking up a pint of multi-colored cherry tomatoes, a firm eggplant, and a couple small, pattypan squashes. These all went into a pasta with a hearty portion of Italian sausage from Flying Pigs Farm for the meat-eaters in the crowd. We all loved it. Loved how the dish was colorfully studded with well-sized chunks ‘o stuff. Loved … Read More
Big, floppy discs of eggplant begone. Sad, soggy flaps of squash stay away. It’s summer, and there’s so many types and sizes of seasonal produce about, why not grab all the good ones instead? Like these tiny, tender, baby eggplants and pattypan squash, a fun change of pace within their familiar family of plants.