Fried Green Eggplant with Peach Salsa

posted in: Recipes | 17

This weekend, I had the pleasure of running into not one but two different old roommates of mine, whom I haven’t seen in ages and didn’t even realize lived in the city in one case. I know these women intimately, but for some stupid reason have fallen out of touch with them over the years. Now, we didn’t romp around in flour, or kill our abusive husbands with frying pans like the protagonists in Fried Green Tomatoes. But I was feeling nostalgic for those times all the same, and knew just the recipe I wanted to try out for the first time today. Except for one little ingredient switch.

On Saturday, the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket “smelled like peaches” as a friend put it. I think 75% of the farmers were selling peaches, to my astoundment. I’m not one to be left out of the fun, and with bounty like that, my mind started buzzing with all the different things to do with them. (Although a fresh peach pie can never go wrong.)

I was also surprised to see eggplants there already, and in so much variety. I swear the shades they come in multiply every year: last summer I discovered the luminous, moon-white eggplants. This time, I found a pretty, spring green-colored one. I wouldn’t be surprised to see cherry red ones appear next. Since this one so resembled a green, firm tomato, I decided to slice it in rounds and cook in the manner of the Jessica Tandy film.

I’m convinced that a crispy, hard crust surrounding a custard-soft, warm center is the best way to experience an eggplant. I made a stir-fry with another, purple eggplant recently. It was slimy, maybe a little over-cooked, and soaked in the garlic and black bean sauce of the dish. Overall, pleasant. But this batter-fried, peach salsa-topped dish really had me from bite one. Using coarse breadcrumbs (instead of cornmeal, as some recipes recommend) and egg for dredging, and olive oil (instead of bacon drippings, again as some recipes advise) for frying, this not-so-southern side dish was produced. I considered making a smooth, chilled peach sauce to go with it, but after seeing how pretty the diced peaches looked, I instead combined them with some seeded jalapenos, radishes, chives and lime juice for this chunky, refreshing salsa topping.

So here’s one way to do peaches and eggplant: two local summer fruits/vegetables that I’d never have thought went together before. But isn’t that what friendships are all about? (And isn’t cooking seasonally fun?)

Fried Green Eggplant with Peach Salsa
(makes about 3-4 servings)

1 1-lb green eggplant, sliced into 1/2″ thick rounds
1 large peach, diced
2 jalapenos, seeded and finely diced
about 3 radishes, trimmed and finely diced
1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 egg, beaten
1 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs
about 4 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Sprinkle eggplant slices with sea salt and set aside while you chop and prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Combine the peaches, jalapenos, radishes, lime juice and chives in a bowl, cover and set aside.

Combine the beaten egg with about 3 tablespoons water and place into a large, wide bowl. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper into the breadcrumbs and place into a large, wide bowl. Heat olive oil over medium-high in a large skillet. Dredge eggplant rounds first in the egg mixture, then into the breadcrumbs. Once the oil is hot, add the eggplant slices to the pan (you may need to work in batches if they don’t all fit), and cook on each side about 3-4 minutes, or until lightly browned. Transfer to paper towels and let cool a minute. Transfer to a plate, top with peach salsa, and serve immediately.

Cost Calculator
(for 3-4 side servings)

1 green eggplant (at $2/lb): $2.00
1 large peach (at $2.50/lb): $1.60
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs: $0. 25
2 jalapenos: $0. 50
3 radishes: $0.35
1 lime: $0. 20
1 egg: $0.25
4 tablespoons olive oil :$0. 30
salt and pepper: $0. 05

Total: $5.50

Health Factor

Three brownie points: Given that this dish has the word “fried” in it, it’s made a startling comeback in terms of vitamins thanks to its being virtually all fresh, healthy produce. Eggplant, no matter the color, is a surprisingly good source of fiber, folate, Vitamin K, potassium and other nutrients. Peaches add a boost of Vitamin C and Vitamin A, and the only negative really is a minimal amount of fat from the olive oil (heart-healthy monounsaturated, however) and the egg.

Green Factor

Seven maple points: This dish was inspired by browsing the produce at the Greenmarket, and so has seven “green” points to show it. Peaches and eggplants both are abundant in late summer, a sacred time for cooking fresh and deliciously if you live in the northeast. Taking advantage of that, and by re-purposing stale bread for breadcrumbs, there’s not much you can say about this dish that isn’t green (except for the imported olive oil — sigh).

17 Responses

  1. alli

    given the fact that I also purchased an interestingly-colored eggplant as well as peaches at Grand Army Plaza this weekend, it seems like I have no choice but to give this recipe a try. I even happen to have all of the other ingredients for it already in my fridge. What luck. Thanks for the post!

  2. sarah

    there WERE a lot of fruit offerings at the farmers market this weekend!

    i just stumbled upon your blog & am really loving it, btw. subscribing now!! 🙂

  3. Jessie

    just so we’re all clear, neither iggy or ruth killed frank bennet…

    meal looks de-lish. I’m gonna have to go off and try it.

  4. Olivia

    hot damn, i love fried green tomatoes. why did i not see green eggplants at the USQ greenmarket?? I’ll have to investigate for future frying missions…

  5. cathy

    Haha, I didn’t want to be too much of a spoiler, Jessie, but I should have guessed everyone’s already seen that movie 15 years ago.
    Olivia: You might try any of the other color eggplants, and tell me how they turned out!

  6. Karol

    mary stuart masterson is one of the most underrated actresses of ALL TIME!

  7. Nichelle

    the peach salsa! what a great idea. they’re in season now and I just had one yesterday.

  8. Michele, aka: Juice Girl

    Oh my goodness, that looks GOOD! I’ve never had that before. I’m going to HAVE to try it. I love fried green tomatoes, so I believe I’d love this too. And, I just got peaches today from the market! Thanks for this beautiful recipe!

  9. Kerry

    OMG…this was delicious. BUT no one had chives by me so I made a typical salsa with peach, tomato, cilantro, onion, radish, and lime. It was so very good. Eggplant and peach is a phenomenal combination.

  10. Nini

    I live in Kennesaw Ga and have been growing eggplant for the past ten years. This year was the first year I grew green eggplant and the tiny purple and white striped eggplant called “breakfast eggplant” in addition to “Japanese Eggplant” The green eggplant is easily grown, has a crisp texture, and a wonderful taste. My co-worker, Carolyn, made eggplant I bought into the office combining the green eggplant and the japanese eggplant with a variety of cheeses. I just finished scraping my dish! I also dice eggplant and use in soups in place of potatos.When harvesting eggplant I freeze some as well.

  11. […] [Fried Green Eggplant] w/ Peach Salsa by Not Eating Out in New York […]

  12. Jack Smith

    This is Great. I have one gigantic eggplant growing in a planter and someone pulled off a 6-8 inch green eggplant I had been nursing for a meal. I will try this recipe and hope it tastes good. Thanks.

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