Autumn: The last eggplant of summer?

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Autumn: The last eggplant of summer?

Postby Robin Garr » Tue Oct 22, 2013 7:26 pm

That sounds a lot less nostalgic than the old traditional song, "Last Rose of Summer," but it's nostalgic enough: With a frost forecast for tonight and freezing temps not far behind, autumn is finally coming to the Ohio River Valley.

We harvested about 20 skinny white Indian eggplants (and some fat green tomatoes) today, and I've now got all the eggplant, chopped and tossed with onion chunks, olive oil, salt and pepper, roasting on a greased cookie sheet, where it will bask at 450F for a half-hour or so until they fall into juicy, tender little browned morsels. We'll just throw some on basmati rice and eat it au naturel, and if there's any left, save it for a pasta topping or risotto or pilaf ingredient.

We got these little eggplants by accident back in the spring - a friend picked up three skinny whites by accident when we thought we were getting the traditional black globes - but this chop-and-roast technique has turned a mistake into a delicious standard in our dinner rotation.

Fall. I'm not a fan of the colder seasons, and I'm not looking forward to winter, either. But from the standpoint of the kitchen, I'm kind of looking forward to baking breads from Peter Reinhart's books again, and some pizza!
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Re: Autumn: The last eggplant of summer?

Postby Jenise » Tue Oct 22, 2013 7:34 pm

I found six skinny purple eggplants still hanging on my plants that I'd long since given up for barren (sp? that doesn't look right, but neither does baren.) Would happily turn them into what you're having, but I fear that the additional hang time might have made them woody. Which is an uninformed thought: I have no idea if eggplant goes funny after awhile or not--the fruit never seems to get so ripe it just falls off. Any experience?
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Re: Autumn: The last eggplant of summer?

Postby Karen/NoCA » Tue Oct 22, 2013 8:31 pm

Hey, just cut the end off of one of them and take a peek.They should be ok unless they did not get a chance to fully ripen.
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Re: Autumn: The last eggplant of summer?

Postby Robin Garr » Tue Oct 22, 2013 8:35 pm

Jenise, I'm with Karen on this. In my experience, eggplant (in contrast with, say, okra) never goes "woody." What I have noticed is that the seeds become more prominent. But any long-cooking technique should take care of that. I've never found eggplant seeds to get hard and dry enough to be a problem.
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Re: Autumn: The last eggplant of summer?

Postby Rahsaan » Tue Oct 22, 2013 9:55 pm

Robin Garr wrote:...and some pizza!


The hot oven is more appreciated in the colder weather but there is a huge letdown with no more tomatoes for sauce!
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Re: Autumn: The last eggplant of summer?

Postby Jenise » Wed Oct 23, 2013 3:38 am

Robin Garr wrote:Jenise, I'm with Karen on this. In my experience, eggplant (in contrast with, say, okra) never goes "woody." What I have noticed is that the seeds become more prominent. But any long-cooking technique should take care of that. I've never found eggplant seeds to get hard and dry enough to be a problem.


Skin doesn't get too tough?
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Re: Autumn: The last eggplant of summer?

Postby Robin Garr » Wed Oct 23, 2013 7:54 am

Jenise wrote:Skin doesn't get too tough?

Our little white eggplants have really tender skin. The black/purple, Ida know. Sometimes I peel it if it seems thick, but if you're grilling it, it generally cooks up. Short answer, I don't know, but you can always peel it. :)
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Re: Autumn: The last eggplant of summer?

Postby Redwinger » Wed Oct 23, 2013 8:47 am

Jenise-
I think they'll be fine. I just prepared about 5 or 6 late season black eggplants that I didn't get around to pick for at least 3 weeks afte they were "ripe". Surprisingly good.
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Re: Autumn: The last eggplant of summer?

Postby Karen/NoCA » Wed Oct 23, 2013 12:13 pm

Rahsaan wrote:
Robin Garr wrote:...and some pizza!


The hot oven is more appreciated in the colder weather but there is a huge letdown with no more tomatoes for sauce!

If you grow a lot os tomatoes, make your own sauce and freeze it. The entire top shelf of my freezer is frozen sauce, everything from marinara, paste, to tomato sauces. Some have peppers mixed in when I had lots of peppers. The sauce freezes very well and even the containers I've opened two years later are still great. Great to have during the winter. When I grew eggplant, I made eggplant meatballs, those were great to have too. Take out a package of meatballs and one of sauce and you have dinner in minutes! I should do this again while the Farmer's Market still has eggplant!!!
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Re: Autumn: The last eggplant of summer?

Postby Carl Eppig » Wed Oct 23, 2013 1:11 pm

Just harvested the last things in my garden. It consisted of two not quite red peppers, and a handful of red Romaine leaves. We do have basil and parsley in tubs on the deck that we can throw a sheet over. It is supposed to be 32 degrees F for the next two nights.
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Re: Autumn: The last eggplant of summer?

Postby Rahsaan » Wed Oct 23, 2013 2:41 pm

Karen/NoCA wrote:If you grow a lot os tomatoes, make your own sauce and freeze it.


I don't grow anything, but making stuff to freeze for the winter is an idea. It certainly has a long tradition.

If I can just find the time!

As it is, peeling and seeding tomatoes for the weekly sauce takes up a fair amount of time. But the tomato weeks are numbered...
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Re: Autumn: The last eggplant of summer?

Postby Jenise » Wed Oct 23, 2013 6:04 pm

Karen, I want to hear about those eggplant meatballs. Was just looking at a Marcella Hazan recipe for fried eggplant balls, but I didn't read the details (would have, but was wearing wrong glasses.)
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Re: Autumn: The last eggplant of summer?

Postby Jeff Grossman/NYC » Wed Oct 23, 2013 7:27 pm

It is "barren".
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Re: Autumn: The last eggplant of summer?

Postby Jenise » Wed Oct 23, 2013 8:09 pm

Jeff Grossman/NYC wrote:It is "barren".


Thanks--first instincts are usually the best, but this time I doubted myself.
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Re: Autumn: The last eggplant of summer?

Postby Karen/NoCA » Thu Oct 24, 2013 4:26 pm

Jenise wrote:Karen, I want to hear about those eggplant meatballs. Was just looking at a Marcella Hazan recipe for fried eggplant balls, but I didn't read the details (would have, but was wearing wrong glasses.)


RCP: Eggplant Meatballs

Peel, dice and blanch one large egg plant, drain and cool. ***I actually steam the eggplant in my vegetable steamer. It does not get so water logged and holds up better

Mix with 2 pounds lean ground beef
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
5 or more cloves garlic, diced
1/3 cup good quality bread crumbs
2 eggs
1/2 tsp dried basil (I use fresh basil)
salt and pepper

Make meatballs, fry in olive oil, drain (I bake in the oven with a little EVOO on the bottom of a baking pan)
You can now freeze these or set in a baking dish, cover with 2 cups of your favorite spaghetti sauce, sprinkle with parmesan and bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Top with jack cheese and serve over noodles.
Note **When eggplants arrive in July, and the fresh basil is up, I make a huge batch of these meatballs, freeze individually, pack and seal in Food Saver bags. Great for quick meals in the winter.
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