July 5, 2011
Spaghetti with eggplants, new carrots, and shallots.
After weeks of skipping my Saturday morning market run due to the chaotic nature of my living situation and work schedule, I was finally able to go back to the marché des Batignolles this weekend.
It was the perfect morning for a comeback. I'd awoken (relatively) early, it was mild and sunny, and as I rode my bicycle down the boulevard in my shower-wet hair, I was seized by that swelling feeling of expectation and accomplishment that makes Saturday morning market runs so addictive: you can't wait to see what glowing things the market stalls will hold, but whatever you end up buying, you know your weekend is bound to be a fine one after you've filled the produce drawer, the star-shaped fruit bowl, and the baby green flower vase.
I got half a dozen fresh-laid and mucky eggs and just as many white peaches, a hefty bundle of rhubarb stalks, a bouquet of orange and crimson dahlias, some ripe-tender tomatoes, and, most excitedly, from my favorite grower, a bunch of small, gleaming, taut-skinned eggplants -- my first this year.
The eggplant and I have a bit of a complicated relationship*: I adore it when it's well cooked, but I'm always suspicious of the oil content when it is. And I've long found it tricky to cook right myself -- too often it turned out a spongy, bitter mess -- so I didn't eat it nearly as often as I would have liked.
But with time and experience, I have found that a) I have better success cooking small eggplants, no more than 200 grams or 7 ounces each, and b) whether grilled, roasted, or sautéed, these guys need to cook a good long while in order to become the best silky self that they can be.
Tomato salad with roasted eggplant.
And so my weekend has been a bit of an eggplant festival, featuring eggplant spaghetti (cubed eggplant sautéed in olive oil with tiny bits of young carrots and sliced shallots, a splash of white wine, and basil to finish), a tomato and roasted eggplant salad (you mash the flesh of a roasted eggplant with a good olive oil, salt, and pepper, and combine that with ripe tomatoes, black olives and more basil -- the best part is tipping the plate to drink the juices when you're done), and eggplant caviar, dolloped onto poached eggs placed atop toasted slices of sourdough bread.
I've now used up the stash of eggplants I bought on Saturday, but I will soon buy more to make miso-glazed eggplant (a hit of my summer last year), and also to try and reproduce the cold eggplant and almond soup I just had at the Plaza Athénée, where Lawrence Aboucaya, founder of Pousse-Pousse, is currently the cook in residence.
What about you: any eggplant favorites to share?
Post scriptum: After writing this post, I went digging through the archives to link to this lovely recipe for roasted eggplant and yogurt dip and, to my amusement, found an uncanny echo in the post I'd written to accompany it.
* And now you know why this blog is not called "Chocolate & Eggplant."
Cold eggplant and almond soup, as served at the Plaza Athénée.
Roasted Eggplant and Yogurt Dip
Stuffed Eggplant Mini-Rolls