Marketing the Farmers
As a child, Mom would wake The Brother and I at the crack of dawn to go to The Farmer’s Market on occasional Saturday mornings. Of course, it was torture to wake at 5:00 a.m. to get some produce. I mean, seriously, mom… the roosters weren’t even awake yet! (Note: I grew up in The City- we didn’t have roosters and I don’t recall ever seeing a rooster until adulthood.) Once at the Market, The Brother and I would each be treated to a honey stick. Do they still make those, the tubes of flavored honey? As soon as we had our paws wrapped around watermelon or grape flavored honey, we were good to go. The more disgusting the flavor- the better.
The Market became a part of me. I used to crave going to the market to see the ethnic selections available, local fresh produce, smell the City (think smoked BBQ, roasting coffee and river water). This is over 2o years ago, when the local Grocery didn’t have an aisle labeled “Asian” or “Hispanic.” If you wanted rice noodles, prosciutto, fresh tortillas, hummus… you had to go to the Farmers Market.
When The Husband and I found out that we were moving from North Carolia to 45 minutes from my beloved city, I talked incessantly about going to the City Market on Saturday mornings. I regaled him with stories of my childhood; the Flag store up the street, the BBQ joint in the terrace, and the stench aroma of the Mediterranean market. Fortunately, for The Husband’s sake, he gets all of his beauty rest on Saturday mornings because we have a wonderful Farmer’s Market here in town. Local farmers truck in all sorts of produce and flowers.
The past Saturday, The Husband slept a little late and we didn’t get to our local Farmers Market until most of the produce had been picked over. There were some beautiful eggplants, though. I snatched one up along with a handful of shallots and a bunch of fresh peonies. Getting The Husband to eat eggplant isn’t as difficult as it was in years past. Now, I can cleverly disguise it in Eggplant Parmesan or this wonderful little Mediterranean dip called Babaganoush. I dare you to try it. It’ll make an eggplant lover out of anyone and it’s a no-fuss snack or light dinner for a hot summer night.
A Cat’s Pajamas Original Recipe
1 eggplant (about 1 1/2 lb)
3-4 T Tahini paste (ground sesame seed, found in sauce aisle at the grocery)
1 1/2 t cumin
2 T olive oil (more for drizzling)
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 2 lemons
Salt and pepper to taste
Small handful flat-leaf parsley
2-3 cloves garlic (3 makes it spicy), peeled
Serve with: Pita Bread
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Prick the eggplant skin several times to allow steam to escape. Place the eggplant on foil lined baking sheet, throw it in the oven… slam the door closed and go swim or do something fun and summery. Bake the eggplant for about an hour, hour and quarter until the skin is blackened. Let stand 15 minutes.
While the eggplant is cooling enough for you to handle it, start making the sauce. In the bowl of a food processor, throw in the remaining ingredients. Pulse about 10-15 times until smooth. The eggplant should be approachable by now.
Cut the ends off of the eggplant (but don’t cut too much out, you’re going to want all you can get). Cut the eggplant lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a serrated spoon (the seeds make this dish bitter, so get them out). With the serrated spoon (grapefruit spoon) gently pull the eggplant away from the skin and place the good bits in a sieve. Discard skins. Push the good bits of eggplant into the sieve to get a little moisture out then throw it in the food processor and pulse until smooth. Transfer to a serving bowl and drizzle with additional olive oil.
Serve with pita triangles or sliced English cucs.