Screw Fall Flavors – Eggplant, Peppers on the Menu this Monday
There is Still Time
I came home from the Oak Park Farmer’s Market the other day with four large, globe eggplants. Not any glamourous eggplants, nothing heirloom, skinny, white, or precious. Just the plain eggplants you would find at a farmstand in the summer. See, mid-October, I’m glad for any eggplant. And peppers, we think of peppers as summer food, but really peak pepper season is now, and the Condiment Queen had many for sale the other day. What came in our Tomato Mountain CSA box last week kinda looks like that shot above. All those peppers, and I had to have more. I also came home with a bunch of hot peppers and a quart of shishitos. I am very much in the mood for eggplants and peppers. I will relinquish their seasonality at the last possible instance. I did not cook any with fall flavors when I tamar’d this weekend.
I admit, eggplants, especially, these heavy, not exciting purple things, are a chore to cook. Most eggplant dishes require the double cook or you know, eggplants require cooking before making them into salads. Or this kind of thing, I did a big bake yesterday of eggplants, peppers and onions topped with Tomato Mountain whole roasted tomatoes. If this was a big bake of say, potatoes, zucchini, and onions, something I might whip up any summer day I can stand oven on, it would be chunk-chunk-chunk some veg; glug-glug-glug some olive oil, a little herb, a bit of water in the pan, and there would be dish around forty-five minutes later. Decide to go with eggplant, it don’t go that way. Plain baked eggplant is bitter and tough and exactly the type of vegetable that scares kids for ages–one requiring visits to Sicily, Israel, and Freddy’s in Cicero to fully cure. Now, fry the eggplant just enough to put some color on each slice, then bake, and you’re talking turning your kids into vegetarians forever. With this kind of dish, you are better off cooking your onions ahead too, so the whole product is soft and assuring.
Of course there are plans for the peppers. It’s been a while since I put up a pot of peppernata, and I plan to continue my quest to be more Serbian soon. Likewise, it won’t be long until I’ve blistered some shishitos. Still, on this weekend, the peppers were only used to bulk up a cabbage dish I did. Our CSA has been very long in cabbages this year; more cabbage than I’ve been able to use. A few went into the compost before I could eat. This week’s box featured gorgeous heads in white and red. I know I’m all about screwing fall flavors, but I wanted to deal with one of these things now. I cooked down some onions and red (carmen) peppers, seasoned up with harissa and seven spice blend before adding my shredded cabbage. I should add that it was only half a cabbage. There’s a lot of cabbage to one cabbage. I think my famous garlicky lemon cabbage salad is in the works this week too.
The rest of the tamaring so far this week was staples. The standard mess of boiled greens so I can respond yes, when the Cook Book Addict says do we have any greens;, some yellow lentils done in a half-puree, aspiring for the Greek dish known as fava, for non-meat protein options, and a bunch of boiled red potatoes because when we have them around, they never stay around. I have a bunch of other stuff to make like cauliflower and fennel. I will assure you whatever I put on the menu this week, I won’t be putting on anything that tastes like a pumpkin pie latte.