Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fall Farmer’s Market

If you follow me on twitter (@arubulaskitchen) you know I am at the farmers’ market at least 3 times a week, not to mention our local farms. I am proud to say that since last January our house has taken the barcodes out of our home and are running at approximately 85% local farm. The other 15% being spices, some flours, oils. We have already placed our order for meat to carry us through the winter and started canning and freezing the produce we purchase throughout the week. I feel like little squirrels. And I like it.
Fall is my very favorite eating season. After summer of raw, fresh fruits and vegetables and being too hot to actually do much indoor cooking I get very excited to crank up my oven and start baking muffins, cookies, and breads, cooking stews and roasting slow meats. I enjoy rich foods (and salt!) that are going to put some meat on the bones for those upcoming winter chills. Pumpkin ales and coffees and the sweet smell of warm spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg make me have a constant smile from the comfort as these comforting flavors wrap around me. I love the markets are full of color from the oranges and yellows of squashes and pumpkins, to purples of eggplant and beets, to the reds of apples, to the hearty, leafy greens and the beans, the cauliflower and celery root, and figs and mushrooms. It’s a beautiful rainbow of delicious foods! I am getting so excited just thinking about it.

The recipe I am sharing today allows any ingredient to be swapped in/out, it’s super easy and even the kids eat it.
Fried Eggplant with Cucumber, Red Onion, Red Bell Pepper, and Feta
2 Eggplant, sliced about 1/2 inch thick
1 1/2 cup bread crumbs (keep stale bread in the freezer, use your cheese grater and grate the bread whenever you need bread crumbs)
1 cup flour (for extra health benefits mix 1/2 all-purpose flour and 1/2 whole wheat flour)
2 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper
1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
1/4 Red Onion, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
4-5 Basil leaves, chopped
Feta cheese, enough to sprinkle on plate
2 tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
4 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
(All of these ingredients, except the balsamic can be found at my Farmer’s Market- YAY! Local food!)

Get out 4 plates. On the first plate put the flour (add salt and pepper to taste), on the second plate put the eggs, on the third put the bread crumbs, and on the forth line with paper towels. Put oil in frying pan and begin to warm over medium high heat.
Take a slice of eggplant and put in the flour, coating on both sides, then dip in the egg mixture, getting coated really well, then to the bread crumbs, then into the heated oil in the pan. (TIP! Using only one hand and only using the the thumb, pointer, and middle fingers allows you to have a clean hand at all times and makes life easier- also really fun to have kids join you in this process, make sure you add it to the pan) Cook on each side 2-3 minutes, until breadcrumbs are a deep golden brown, then place on paper towel lined plate. Repeat until all eggplant slices are cooked.
In a bowl mix the onion, pepper, cucumber and quick sprinkle of salt to taste. Place 2-3 eggplant slices on plate, drizzle 1/2 tablespoon over eggplant, take a small handful of veggie mixture over the eggplant, add some cheese, drop a little chopped basil. And your done! Enjoy!
If you have a kid that doesn’t like their food touching this is how I prepare this dish for my kid- no different amount of work, same food, but kid friendly (he has a dairy allergy so he doesn’t get the feta)
Adult Plate (bottom):Kid Plate (top)

Here’s a fancier version (my husband took this shot because he loves this dish), this one is mozzarella, heirloom tomato, and a bed of cucumber ribbons

Very easy to make with whatever is hanging around in your fridge! Happy Fall!