One of our best, best friends is an adventurous fermenter, pickle fanatic, and fellow farmer with a very refined palette - so when he told me that he'd been dreaming of these pickled eggplants since I made them last season, I took note. I loved slicing them up and putting them on sandwiches with hummus, or on a salad, or as an appetizer with olives, but Justin just ate them by the jar. They were gone before he even know what was happening, and then he longed for them all year. Coming from him, that's quite a compliment.
All year I promised him we would make a gigantic batch this season, and the time has come. Last weekend we gathered in the evening, at far too late an hour to be starting such a project, and went into production. We made 12 quarts, but may decide to make more this week, just in case, for stockpiling. We're assuming a "can't ever have too many" position, because they really are that good.
Maybe you're like us and have hundreds of pounds of eggplants in your walk-in, or maybe you just have a few long skinny ones left over in the fridge. Either way, make these pickles with the small, long, skinny asian varieties that we grow, and don't skimp on the garlic and cayenne. These should be spicy and very flavorful. They'll get you through winter that way.
These quantities are for one quart, so scale up accordingly:
1 - 1 1/2 pounds of small, long eggplants
1 garlic head, peeled and crushed
1 tablespoon pickling salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
1. Steam the eggplants for 5 to 8 minutes, or until they are tender but not mushy.
2. Mix the crushed garlic with salt and cayenne. Slit each eggplant lengthwise, cutting most of the way through. Stuff the eggplants with the garlic mixture. Pack the eggplants into the jar.
3. Boil vinegar and water, then let cool. Fill the jar to the brim with the cooled liquid.
4. Store in the fridge for at least three weeks, but these pickles will stay good in the fridge for a few months at least.
Adapted from Linda Ziedrich's Joy of Pickling.
We’re getting to the juicy and delicious time of year when almost every meal is what we lovingly call “only olive oil” – meals in which the ONLY ingredient that didn’t come from the farm is the olive oil. This recipe is technically an “only olive oil and pasta” dinner, but someday soon we’ll be growing and milling our own flour for bread and pasta and this too will be only olive oil.
When the sungolds and fairy tales are both in season, we make this dish often. Very often. More than twice a week, let’s say, though I’m a little embarrassed to admit that. It’s just so quick, so simple, so seasonal and so delicious. It tastes like summer. The recipe definitely falls into the catch-all category of what we do with most veggies – saute with olive oil and garlic – but it’s worth a special mention because it’s just such a delicacy.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Pasta (angel hair would be nice, but any pasta will do)
¼ C olive oil
3 – 6 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 pints of fairy tale eggplants, cut into quarters (you don’t want to chop the eggplant too small – nice big chunks makes it creamier)
1 pint of sungold cherry tomatoes, cut into halves
1 hot pepper of your choice, or more to taste, finely chopped with seeds removed
Basil, coarsely chopped
A little parmesan on top never hurts
Here’s what to do:
1. Boil the pasta.
2. Put ¼ C of olive oil in a large pan on medium heat, then add garlic.
3. Saute garlic until it just starts to brown, stirring occasionally – about 3 minutes.
4. Add the eggplants, and salt to taste. Saute for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the eggplants are browned and tender but before they start to fall apart. Stir occasionally.
5. Add the tomatoes and peppers, saute for another five minutes.
6. Turn off heat and add basil, stir.
7. Serve over pasta.
It's officially eggplant season, and we really couldn't be happier here at the farm. We hold a special place in our collective heart for the creamy, tender, nutty flavors of this exceptional nightshade, and during prime eggplant season we are known to make ourselves sick eating it for three (or four, or five) meals a day.
In typical form, we're growing nine different varieties this season - each type has its own character and taste, so we'll try to be clear in our recipes about which types are best for which methods of preparation. Though, when in doubt, grill or broil any of these varieties using the recipe below.
Grilled or Broiled Eggplant Slices
Adapted from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman
1 medium-to-large italian eggplant (1 to 1½ pounds)
1 tsp minced garlic
4 to 6 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Minced fresh parsley leaves
Cut the eggplant and salt, if you like. (This will draw out the bitterness: sprinkle both sides of the slices liberally with coarse salt, then let drain in a colander for at least half an hour, or up to two hours; rinse and squeeze dry between paper or cloth towels.) Start a charcoal or wood fire or preheat a gas grill or broiler; the rack should be 4 to 6 inches from the heat source. Stir the garlic into the olive oil and brush one side of the eggplant slices with the oil. Place, oiled side down, on a baking sheet or directly on the grill. Sprinkle with salt (if you salted the eggplant, hold off) and pepper, then brush with more oil. Broil or grill until browned on both sides, turning once or twice and brushing with more oil if the eggplant looks dry. Serve hot or at room temperature, garnished with parsley.
Care & Storage
For Eating Fresh: Store eggplants in a cool place outside of the fridge, but don't wait too long to eat them. If you must, you can put them in the fridge for a week or so, but they wont be as tender when you cook them.
To Freeze: Wash the eggplants, remove any blemishes, and cut into pieces. Blanch for 5 minutes in boiling water (to preserve color, dissolve 4 teaspoons of salt per gallon of boiling water). Cool immediately. (Tip: If you lay the pieces on a tray in the freezer before putting them in a container, then the pieces will freeze individually instead of in a large clump and can be used at different times instead of all at once.)
July - September
Black Beauty, Rosa Bianca, White
The Italian eggplants are the most widely used in traditional American, European, and Middle-Eastern cooking. Use these for baking, roasting, grilling, eggplant parmesan, and baba ganoush. These eggplants may have a characteristic bitterness, which can be drawn out by salting cut pieces and allowing them to drain in a colander for about half-an hour. Pat dry with a towel before proceeding after salting, and be aware that your recipe may not require more salt then you’ve already added through this process. Rosa Bianca is an especially stricking variety, with gorgeous pink coloration and an unusual shape that results in scalloped rounds if sliced horizontally. We find that Rosa Bianca also has a particularly creamy consistency and sweetness to the flavor.
Light Purple, Dark Purple, Kyoto Egg
The Japanese eggplant varieties are more tender and less bitter than their Italian counterparts; there’s no need to salt or peal these. They cook more quickly as well, so choose these for stir-fries and sautés. Slice the longer banana-shaped varieties just once or twice lengthwise before grilling or broiling.
Thai eggplants have a very firm flesh that is especially well suited to soaking up the sauces and broths of Thai and Indian cooking without disintegrating. Perfect for curries.
Fairy Tale, Calliope
Sweet, tender, flavorful, and creamy, Fairy Tale are the best eggplants we’ve ever tasted. They cook quickly, and don’t need to be salted or pealed. Throw them whole or sliced once into stir-fries, sautés, or skewered on the grill. The baby eggplants are also the best for pickling.
Lebanese Pickled Eggplant Stuffed With Garlic
Adapted from The Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich
Makes 1 quart
1¼ lb 3- to 4-inch-long eggplants
1 garlic head, cloves separated, peeled, and crushed
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp pickling salt
½ tsp cayenne
1 cup plus 2 tbsp red wine vinegar, plus more if needed
1 cup plus 2 tbsp water
Steam the eggplants for 5 to 8 minutes, or until they are tender but not mushy. Let them cool. Mix the garlic with 1 tbsp salt and the cayenne. Using the tip of a knife, slit each eggplant once lengthwise, cutting most of the way through. Stuff the eggplants with the garlic mixture. Pack the eggplants into a quart jar.
Combine the vinegar, water, and remaining 1 tsp salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt. Let cool. Pour the liquid over the eggplants, and top the jar off with a little more vinegar, if necessary. Refrigerate for 1-2 weeks before eating. The pickles will keep, refrigerated, for a couple months.
Greek Eggplant Dip
From Vefa’s Kitchen
2 lbs eggplant
¼ tsp salt, plus extra for sprinkling
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ cup olive oil, plus extra for sprinkling
4 tbsp red wine vinegar (more or less)
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 mild green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
Preheat the broiler or light the barbecue. Broil or grill the eggplants whole, turning frequently, until the skins are charred and the flesh is softened. (Cooking over charcoal gives the salad a pleasant smoky flavor.) Remove from the heat and hold each eggplant briefly under cold running water until cool enough to handle, then peel immediately. Do not allow the unpeeled eggplants to cool completely or the flesh will turn black. When peeled, put them into a strainer and let cool completely. Chop the eggplant flesh and transfer to a bowl. Add the salt and garlic. Beating constantly with an electric mixer on medium speed, gradually add the oil, a few drops at a time, then in a slow steady thin stream until all of it has been absorbed. Continue beating and gradually add vinegar to taste, a little at a time. Transfer to a serving dish, cover, and chill in the refrigerator. Garnish with parsley, chopped bell pepper, and tomato. Sprinkle with a little salt and olive oil and serve with crackers or crudités.