As summer winds down, we hate to let go of the bounty of local fruits and vegetables that mark the season. Up in Baltimore, Spike Gjerde is making sure he doesn’t have to. The chef-owner of Woodberry Kitchen has designed a program that will allow him to preserve produce for that restaurant and others he owns. Cathy Barrow tells us about it here.
Of course, you can do that at home, too, albeit on a smaller scale. A dehydrator is great at capturing the pure, concentrated flavors of fruits and vegetables; Sara Pepitone explains how. And Joe Yonan writes about turning summer fruit and herbs into flavorful jam.
Have questions about DIY preserving? Then tune in at noon today for the Free Range chat. Special guests this week: Deanna DeLong, author of “How to Dry Foods”; Isaiah Billington, head of preservation at Woodberry Kitchen; and Cathy Barrow, who blogs at Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Kitchen and is also a veteran canner/preserver.
With all that firepower, we should be able to answer any and all questions. But if we don’t get around to yours, check this space next week for leftovers. Like this one, from last week’s chat:
I’ve gotten way too many small eggplants from my CSA over the past couple of weeks — various varieties, but all small. I’ve roasted, and tossed the roasted pieces in with pasta; baked with cheese and tomatoes; tossed with grains. Now I’m stuck!
No, you’re in luck!
If I had to have way too much of one vegetable, I would want to be in your shoes. (At this point, howls of protest rise from those of you who know that eggplant is not a vegetable. Oh, stop. More on that later.) Eggplant is what some people like to call inherently taste-free but what I prefer to think of as endlessly versatile. For me, the problem is never what to do with it; it’s that there’s so much to do with it, it’s hard to choose.
Eggplant makes great dips and spreads, hearty soups, salads, complementary sides and filling main courses. Your CSA’s small specimens can be used pretty much like big ones; you’ll just need more of them. And their size lends them to a number of single-serving preparations that are kinda cute to look at as well as good to eat.
Let’s take a quick stroll through our Recipe Finder to see what’s there. I’ll start with dips and spreads. Roasted Eggplant Dip calls for 3 1/2 to 4 pounds of larger eggplants; you can use smaller ones but just roast them for less time. Eggplant Caviar is a dip that doubles as a side dish for meats.
Cream of Tomato Soup With Croutons is made with cherry tomatoes (easy — no need to peel and seed them) and 1 pound of eggplant, which gives the soup depth and texture. Roasted Eggplant Soup and Roasted Eggplant Soup With Goat Cheese are self-explanatory; the goat cheese version looks particularly delicious, even a little decadent.
Steamed Eggplant With Sherry Vinaigrette is a Spanish-inspired dish that does double duty as a starter or salad. I love, love, love Spicy Braised Eggplant With Prunes, a side dish that’s made in the slow-cooker.
Baby Eggplant Parmigiana would be a perfect use for your stash. I like the sound of Eggplant and Potato Pastries, easy because it calls for store-bought puff pastry sheets. And we have two recipes for stuffed eggplant: one with a Moroccan flavor, one Turkish.
That’s just a small sample of our eggplant repertoire. For more, check out Recipe Finder.
So: Yes, eggplant is not a vegetable. Like tomatoes and squash, which also tend to masquerade as veggies, it’s a fruit. In fact, technically it’s a berry, though not one you’d want to put in a trifle. But that’s not important. What is important is that there are dozens of easy ways to use up a CSA eggplant bounty that might even make you wish you had more.