This has been the summer for growing eggplant in the Hudson Valley of upstate New York. Eggplant included in a weekly CSA (community supported agriculture) farm share from Roxbury Farm in Kinderhook (Columbia County) plus a planting of eggplant in my backyard garden has been challenging to use even for a household that loves baba ghanoush. An easy to make recipe for the delicious roasted eggplant spread was posted here a couple of years ago, and has been used numerous times this summer.
A starting place for some culinary inspiration on how to use up the abundant supply of seasonal eggplant is the informative Edible, An Illustrated Guide to the World’s Food Plants, (Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 2008), reviewed here and highly recommended several years ago .
First cultivated in India, with its mild flavor and spongy texture, eggplant combines well with other ingredients. Aubergine (the French word for eggplant borrowed from Catalan albergínia) is popular in Italian, Greek, Middle Eastern and Asian cuisine.
And Edible confirmed the advice from the reliable resource for the home cook, Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, and Ethan Becker (New York, NY: Scribner, 1997), that it is no longer necessary to salt eggplant before cooking unless the fruit is large and old. No worries here, with a weekly farm share of just harvested eggplant and two picked fresh off the vine in my backyard garden.
This easy-to-make recipe for a tasty eggplant stew is a variation of one for Rigatoni with Stewed Eggplant Sauce from The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook, 350 Essential Recipe for Inspired Everyday Eating (New York, NY, Houghton Mifflin, 1997) by Jack Bishop. The biggest difference between the two recipes is my use of fresh saladette tomatoes (included in my weekly farm share) instead of canned tomatoes packed in juice. And I use in the recipe only organic vegetables that are fresh, seasonal and local.
I also used yellow and red sweet peppers and white potatoes (instead of rigatoni), all included in my weekly farm share. Moreover, the amount of vegetables added to the stew was based on the number of fresh, organic vegetables in the farm share, and not limited to only one onion and one pepper as called for in the cookbook’s recipe.
In addition, on a visit to the Troy Waterfront Farmers Market, I purchased a few pounds of yellow, white and red onions from Happenchance Farm, a certified organic small farm in White Creek (Washington County), NY and used one of each type in the recipe.
Eggplant Stew (Makes 8 hearty servings)
3 tablespoons olive oil & 1 tablespoon of butter
3 large onions, chopped
1 bulb of garlic, chopped
20 saladette tomatoes, chopped
10 white potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 red and 1 yellow sweet peppers, cored & cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 medium sized eggplants, ends trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
1/4 teaspoon of dried basil
Heat the oil and butter in a large pot. Add the onions and sauté over medium to low heat until translucent, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally
Add the garlic, sweet peppers and potatoes and cook for 10 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally
Add the tomatoes and enough water (1/2 to 1 cup) to cover all the vegetables, as well as the salt and dried basil, and cook over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally
Add the eggplant, and cook over low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally
Serve with grated parmigiana reggiano
(Frank W. Barrie, 8/29/18)