LOCAVORE’S DELIGHT: The Series # 20. Follow us all summer long as we explore the bounty of our region’s farms.
by MOLLY McGINN
Late August brings okra and eggplant, and with your summer tomatoes either juiced and in the can or too soft to slice, rediscover a little smothered eggplant, which features the oblong vegetable at its best: playing a supporting role.
At the farmer’s market
Common eggplant varieties are Japanese and Italian eggplant. The fundamental difference between the two varieties is shape and how they’re used.
Japanese eggplant is smaller than the Italian variety with fewer seeds. Prep can be tasty and quick. Slice an eggplant longways, grill it on both sides, chop it up, and season with salt and pepper and a little bit of vinaigrette.
Italian eggplant takes a different tack. It has a toothsome, meaty quality when it’s cooked right. Undercooked, it’s less pleasant and spongy.
Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen tip
Take a few blank note cards and hold them together with a binder clip for recipes, notes, and grocery lists.
Tear-dropped shaped, bulbous
Has more seeds
Sauté or roast in the oven
Long and slim in shape
Sauté or grill lightly for a nice fragrance and flavor
- The skin should be tight, unblemished.
- When you pick it up, the eggplant should feel heavy for its size, dense.
- The bigger the eggplant, the more seeds, and you don’t want seeds (a big vegetable yields bigger seeds and the rule of thumb is that the bigger the seed the lower the quality).
Braised Smothered Okra and Eggplant
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- ½ cup diced yellow onion
- 1 lb diced eggplant
- 2 cups diced okra
- ¾ cup V8 juice
- ¾ cup tomato juice
- ½ tbsp Lea & Perrins Worcestershire
- 2 tsp Texas Pete
- ¾ tsp dried thyme
Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the diced onions and sauté for about three minutes. Add the eggplant and cook until eggplant is softened (about 5 minutes or so). Add the okra and sauté. Pour in the V8 and tomato juice mixture and braise over medium-low heat. Add the remaining spices and simmer until all is tender (about 5-10 minutes. )
Optional entree: Add some shrimp, sausage or both and serve over rice.
Posted August 2012