Winter Kitchen Garden Food and Beauty

Food is the main reason I grow a winter kitchen garden, but the beauty of these hardy vegetables is a close second.

Leeks, Parsnips, B Sprouts 12:18Blue-green leek spears share a bed with yellow-green parsnip leaves, and lighter green Brussels sprouts, their small, hard globes arranged like miniature cabbages along tall stalks, fill the next bed.

Kales 12:18

Collard Flash 12:18White outlines the tips and veins of Winterbor and White Russian Kale and Flash Collards.

Cabbage JK 12:18

Rutabaga 12:18Purple tints the flattened globes of January King cabbage and wraps around the rutabaga.

Other roots, carrots, beets, turnips and celery root are hidden, buried in mulch to keep the soil around them from freezing, but when I dig and wash them, their bright colors shine.

Over the next few months, I’ll harvest these winter vegetables as I need them.  When the forecast is for temperatures in the low 20s, teens or lower, I’ll pile on more mulch onto the layers already there and perhaps add some tarps, but for most of our temperate marine northwest winter, these vegetables will hold well in the natural cooler of winter.  They’ll be there for favorite meals as well as for new discoveries.

One wonderful new discovery, an easy and very delicious cabbage recipe, is in Yotam Ottolenghi’s newest cookbook, SIMPLE (2018).  I’ve made it twice already this week and will definitely make it again.

Roast cabbage with tarragon and pecorino

Serve this at room temperature, so the pecorino keeps its texture and flavor. It’s lovely as a side for roast chicken or sausages, or with a selection of cooked veg. Serves four.

 ½ cup olive oil
2 lemons – finely grate the zest, to get 2 tbsp, then juice, to get 2 tbsp
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
Salt and black pepper
2 Napa cabbages (aka pointed cabbage), outer leaves discarded, then cut lengthways into eight wedges each (12 cups/1 kg)
½ cup/10g tarragon leaves, roughly chopped
1oz/30g pecorino shaved (use a vegetable peeler)

Heat the oven to 450 F.

In a small bowl, whisk the oil, lemon zest, garlic, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, then transfer two tablespoons to a second bowl.

Put the cabbage wedges in a large bowl and season with an eighth of a teaspoon of salt. Pour the larger portion of oil mixture over the cabbage and toss to coat. Arrange the cabbage on two oven trays lined with baking paper.

Cabbage raw sliced 12:18

Roast for 20-25 minutes, until the edges are crisp and golden brown (swap the trays around halfway through, so both get time near the higher heat at the top of the oven).

Cabbage cooked sliced 12:18

Transfer the cabbage to a platter, then leave to rest and cool for five to 10 minutes.

Mix the lemon juice into the remaining oil mixture, then drizzle evenly over the cabbage wedges. Scatter the tarragon and pecorino on top, finish with a good grind of black pepper and serve.

Cabbage brown plate 12:18

I used a savoy cabbage, January King, and its sweetness was a perfect match for the lemon dressing.  The shaved Pecorino gives just the right salty touch and the tarragon provides a slight but tasty hint of licorice.  I used dried tarragon because I didn’t have any fresh and, mixed into the oil mixture with the lemon juice, it worked well.

In his introduction to this new cookbook, Ottolenghi characterizes the approach of the book by assigning a word to each of the letters in simple.

S:   Short on time

I:    Ingredients, ten or fewer

M:  Make ahead

P:   Pantry-led

L:   Lazy-day dishes

E:   Easier than you think.

“Easier than you think,” will speak to cooks who have found his earlier books too complex.  I’m a fan of all of his work, especially Jerusalem and Plenty More, and I’m happy that SIMPLE is as exciting as his others.

There are more recipes from SIMPLE that I want to try with the winter vegetables in the kitchen garden.

Leeks: Braised Eggs with Leek and Za’atar

Brussels Sprouts: Brussels Sprouts with Browned Butter and Black Garlic

Celery Root: Whole-roasted Celery Root with Coriander Seed Oil

Beef Meatballs with Lemon and Celery Root

Parsnips: Smoked Fish and parsnip cakes

Carrots: Roasted Carrots with Yogurt and Cinnamon

Beets: Roasted Beets with Yogurt and Preserved Lemon

And then there are some wonderful-sounding recipes for winter storage vegetables, especially squash.  New cookbooks are so inspiring. If you’re looking for a cookbook for your Christmas list, SIMPLE could be the one.

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Kitchen Gardens on Lopez Island

This week I gave a presentation on kitchen garden design to the Lopez Island Garden Club.  As examples of kitchen gardens, I used photographs that my husband Scott took this past July of more than a dozen kitchen gardens here on Lopez Island. From his work, I selected photos of garden gates, vegetable beds, tomato houses and berry enclosures to illustrate the wide range of design options in each of these areas.  My thanks to all the Lopez Island kitchen gardeners who shared their gardens, apologies to those whose gardens I missed, and special thanks to Scott for taking the photographs.

Gates: Welcome to the Kitchen Garden

Mary gate

Skyriver gate 1

Dale gate

Mino gate

McCabe gate

McDougall gate

Metcalf gate

Garden Beds: Lots of design options

Ground level beds

Raised beds at different heights

Beds sided with different materials: wood, metal, stone

Beds separated by paths of different materials: dirt, grass, wood chips, gravel

Beds that are part of landscaped lawns

Beds that are enclosed by fences

Permanent Garden Beds: Lots of advantages

Keep the growing area free of foot traffic

Build up good soil

Improve drainage

Provide a surface for attaching fencing or hoop houses

Create a comfortable height for tending beds

Accommodate sloped terrain

Mary bean poles

Skyriver corn

Adams beds close view

Taylor beds long

Garden bed May

Case beds rectangles

Case rabbit fence

Karp beds close

Karp beds potatoes, tomatoes

Reynold's beds diagonal view

Reynolds bean support

McCabe beds stepping down

McDougall beds step down

Mino beds

Dale beds 1

Anderson beds closeup

Grimes beds long view

Tomato enclosures: plastic, polycarbonate, glass

Adams tomato house

Taylor tomato house

Dale tomato house

Grimes greenhouse

Reynolds greenhouse

McCabe greenhouse

Berry enclosures: frames and netting

Karp blueberries

Mino berry house

Reynolds berry houses

McDougall berry house

Adams strawberry house

 

 

 

Purple of Sicily Cauliflower

Snow Crown has been my go-to cauliflower for the past several years because it’s been so easy to grow for spring and fall harvests. Next year, though, I’m adding Purple of Sicily to my cauliflower-planting schedule.

P of S headMy friend Carol gave me some starts of this heirloom cauliflower in mid July and now, at the end of October, I’ve just harvested the first few heads.  It’s my new favorite cauliflower.  Not only is Purple of Sicily beautiful, it’s more delicately flavored and tender than Snow Crown.  And, based on this first try, it might even be easier to grow than Snow Crown.

P of S garden

Territorial Seed Company carries seed for Purple of Sicily and provides this description:

90 days. Heirloom quality, exceptional flavor, super nutrition, insect resistance and astounding color all in one cauliflower. It’s no wonder Purple of Sicily has been handed down from generation to generation. Big 2-3 pound heads are brilliant purple in the garden or on the fresh veggie platter, changing to a striking green when cooked. The curds are loaded with minerals and have a sweet, delicious, refined flavor. Its natural insect resistance means healthier plants and better success in the garden.

As predicted, the purple outer layer of the cauliflower head turns rich green when cooked.

P of S raw

P of S roasted

Purple of Sicily also cooked more quickly than Snow Crown. Roasted at 375 in olive oil, salt and pepper, it was softening in twenty minutes rather than the usual forty. I also tasted the raw florets as I was preparing Purple of Sicily for roasting and found them more tender and sweeter than white cauliflower, which can taste chalky when raw.  I may end of serving more raw cauliflower in the future.

Further research into Purple of Sicily suggested that not just the cauliflower head but also the leaves and stems are edible.  It’s true!  The first time I cooked Purple of Sicily, I saved out a pile of leaves as I sliced the head for roasting.

P of S greensAs predicted, the leaves and stems are delicious sautéed. They taste like collards but cook more quickly.

For our first Purple of Sicily cauliflower dinner, I added strips of roasted sweet peppers and sautéed shallots to the sautéed cauliflower leaves and stems and arranged them on a plate with red quinoa and fans of roasted, now green, cauliflower, then garnished all with toasted hazelnuts and yellow raisins.  It was a delicious Purple of Sicily meal with more to come, both this fall and next spring.

P of S meal

Fall Cauliflower

I’m coming to the end of my early fall cauliflower crop, six lovely heads that have matured from seeds I started in early June. I wrapped the leaves around the just-forming heads in mid-August, and, protected this way, beautiful full cauliflowers formed a month later.

Cauliflowers tied

Cauliflower head 9:18

The last time I wrote about cauliflower was early summer, 2012 when I explained how I coddle along this challenging-to-grow vegetable and offered my favorite way to cook cauliflower: simply roast it.  Roasting is still my favorite way to prepare cauliflower because the caramelizing that happens as cauliflower roasts in olive oil brings out its earthy but delicate sweetness.

So of course I had to roast the first few heads I harvested.  For a party, I followed my go-to recipe, slicing large pieces into ¼ inch wide fans, arranging them on a sheet pan, brushing them with olive oil, sprinkling on salt and pepper and roasting them at 375 until they were soft and caramelized.

Cauliflower fans roasted

With six heads of cauliflower, though, I decided to branch out a little bit, looking for recipes that still called for roasting but added other flavors.  I should have done this branching out years ago because I found some great recipes.  In Yotam Ottolenghi’s 2014 cookbook Plenty More he offers a roasted cauliflower, grape and cheddar salad that totally suits this fall season.  I was even able to use the Canadice grapes ripening on our arbor.  The raisins marinated in the vinaigrette complement the fresh grapes and the crumbled bits of Cheddar cheese and the chopped hazelnuts add richness. Best of all, though, the flavor of roasted cauliflower comes through.

Cauliflower Ottolenghi salad

Roasted cauliflower, grape and cheddar salad

1 large head cauliflower broken into bite sized florets

6 tablespoons sunflower or other light oil

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon honey

1/4 cup raisins

1/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted and roughly crushed

2/3 cup seedless red grapes, halved

3 oz aged Cheddar cheese, coarsely crumbled

2/3 cup flat leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped

salt and black pepper

Preheat oven to 425°

Toss the cauliflower florets with half of the oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Spread out on a baking sheet and roast for 20-30 minutes, stirring once or twice, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

To make the dressing, whisk together the remaining 3 tablespoons oil with the vinegar, mustard, honey and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add the raisins and let them marinade for at least 10 minutes.

Just before serving, transfer the cauliflower to a large bowl and add the hazelnuts, grapes, Cheddar and parsley. Pour the raisins and dressing over the top, toss together, transfer to a large platter, and serve.

Inspired by the success of this move from plain roasted cauliflower to other flavors, I was ready to take on a Food 52 recipe that appeared in my email last week. Titled Roasted, Spiced, Almond-y Cauliflower, it’s a slightly modified recipe from Melissa Clark, one of my favorite cookbook authors.

Nicholas Day, creator of this version, introduced the recipe as: lightly adapted from Melissa Clark’s In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite. Her version has whole cumin, coriander and brown mustard seeds. It’s a spice mixture that’s very adaptable, obviously; my current version is below. Also, if you don’t have sliced almonds, substitute some chopped almonds or cashews.

Cauliflower spicy almond

large cauliflower, cut into inch-sized florets
1/2teaspoon coriander seed
1/2teaspoon ground cumin
1/2teaspoon ground cinammon
tablespoons olive oil
1/2teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons sliced almonds

Preheat the oven to 425° F. With a mortar and pestle, or the flat side of a chef’s knife, lightly crush the coriander seeds. Add the crushed seeds to a bowl along with the cumin, cinnamon, olive oil, and salt. 

Scatter the cauliflower florets over a rimmed baking sheet, then toss them with the oil-and-spice mixture. Roast for 15 minutes, then stir and roast for 10 more minutes. Sprinkle on the almonds and roast for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until the cauliflower and the almonds are nicely browned. Serve hot, warm, or cold.

This combination of cauliflower, spices and nuts makes a great side dish warm or cold.  I also used it hot the other night as part of a pasta sauce, adding grapes and hazelnuts in a nod to Ottolenghi and thinly slicing a bunch of succulent fall arugula leaves and tossing it in to the hot pasta and spicy cauliflower so it wilted slightly.  With grated pecorino cheese, this pasta with cauliflower made a hearty fall dinner.

I have one more cauliflower left in the kitchen garden. I’ll need to decide soon how to prepare it.

Panzanella Again

It’s hard not to want to photograph everything that the kitchen garden offers right now: glossy purple eggplant, red, orange and yellow peppers, purple onions, and perhaps most photogenic of all, tomatoes. I brought in an especially stunning basketful of tomatoes the other day: deep red Cherokee Carbon and Cherokee Purple, softer red Momotaro and Mortgage Lifter, yellow Hillbillies with their dramatic red creases, and Darby Red and Yellows, small red-orange orbs dashed with yellow.  In the left corner of this red and yellow still life there are two peppers in the same tones: an orange Etudia and a red Carmen.

Tomatoes in basket 8:18

What better way to taste the sweet flavors and show off the warm colors of ripe tomatoes than panzanella? I wrote about this Tuscan bread salad last August and included my favorite recipe for it then, but I want to remind tomato lovers of panzanella again this year and to offer another recipe.  You can never have too many variations on this salad.  This one comes from Melissa Clark and features fresh mozzarella and cucumbers in addition to tomatoes and bread.  My friend Dena served this delicious version of panzanella last week for dinner and shared the equally tasty leftovers on a picnic the next day.  For my latest version, I substituted thinly sliced fennel and those red and orange peppers in the basket because I didn’t have any cucumbers.  They provided the same crunch cucumbers would plus the spicy sweetness of peppers and the sweet anise flavor of fennel.

Tomato bread salad 8:18

Until the tomatoes run out, I’ll be making more variations on this perfect summer salad.

Panzanella With Mozzarella and Herbs Melissa Clark

At the height of tomato season, for every perfectly ripe, taut and juicy specimen, there’s an overripe, oozing counterpart not far away. The Tuscan bread salad called panzanella is the perfect place to use those sad, soft tomatoes that are still rich in flavor. Traditional panzanella is made with stale, dried bread that’s rehydrated from a dressing of sweet tomato juices, vinegar and plenty of olive oil. This version also includes some mozzarella for richness and cucumber for crunch. It’s an ideal make-ahead dish; the longer the mixture sits (up to 6 or so hours), the better it tastes. Just make sure your bread thoroughly dries out in the oven so it won’t turn to mush.

  • 4 ounces ciabatta or baguette, preferably stale, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3

cups)

  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more to taste
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher sea salt, more to taste
  • 2 pounds very ripe tomatoes, preferably a mix of varieties and colors
  • 6 ounces fresh mozzarella, torn or cut into bite-size pieces
  • ½ cup thinly sliced red onion, about half a small onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated to a paste
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oreganoor thyme (or a combination)
  •  Large pinch red pepper flakes(optional)
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  •  Black pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup thinly sliced Persian or Kirby cucumber, about 1 small cucumber
  • ½ cup torn basil leaves
  • ¼ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained
  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Spread the bread cubes on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with 2 tablespoons oil and a pinch of salt. Bake until they are dried out and pale golden brown at the edges, about 7 to 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.
  2. Cut tomatoes into bite-size pieces and transfer to a large bowl. Add mozzarella, onions, garlic paste, 1 tablespoon vinegar, oregano or thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt and the red pepper flakes if using. Toss to coat and set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar, the mustard, 1/4 teaspoon salt and some black pepper to taste. While whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil until the mixture is thickened. Stir in cucumbers, basil and parsley.
  4. Add bread cubes, cucumber mixture and capers to the tomatoes and toss well. Let sit for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours before serving. Toss with a little more olive oil, vinegar and salt if needed just before serving.

From my August 27, 2017 post:

The panzanella recipe I use as my starting point comes from Orcas Island chef Christina Orchid who published it in the Islands Weekly years ago. Here’s the recipe from her website http://redrabbitfarm.com/classes/:

Panzanella green dish

Panzanella: Italian style bread salad.

1 loaf hearty artisanal style French or Italian bread cut into 1 inch cubes.

1/2 cup grated Reggiano parmesan cheese or grana panda

2 pints garden ripe cherry tomatoes cut in half

1 cup basil, chopped

1 small red onion cut in thin slices and quartered

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

 1/4 cup superior quality red wine vinegar

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

 On a large sheet pan toss the bread cubes with enough olive oil to thoroughly moisten all, then toss with the grated cheese, and toast bread cubes in a 440 degree oven for 5 minutes or until crispy and golden.  Reserve.  Cut the tomatoes in half from the stem end and toss with the onions and red wine vinegar.  Refrigerate until you are ready to serve.  Just before service toss the bread cubes together with the tomato mixture and the chopped basil.  Drizzle with Olive Oil and toss until all is moistened.  Garnish with a drizzle of the balsamic vinegar.  Serves 8.

If you follow her recipe exactly, this panzanella provides a transporting mix of textures and flavors. Over the years, though, variations have crept into the panzanella I make. The biggest change currently is that instead of white flour French or Italian bread, I use  either seeded whole wheat bread or whole wheat walnut levain, breads I make from the Della Fattoria Bread cookbook http://dellafattoria.com. I love the way the wheat, seed and walnut flavors meld with the sweetly acid tomato flavors.

The recipe technique of thoroughly moistening the bread cubes with olive oil then tossing them with grated Parmesan and toasting at high heat works wonderfully with this more hearty bread. For tomatoes, I often use juicy full-sized tomatoes like Cherokee Carbon or Cherokee Purple in addition to cherry tomatoes. The extra juice in these larger tomatoes soaks into the toasted bread cubes, softening them but not making them mushy. Sometimes I omit the red onion and use chives or instead of onion use a little chopped garlic but I always use basil. And because high summer tomato flavors are so complex and wonderful on their own, I often omit the red wine vinegar and the balsamic and rely instead on tomato juices for the acid. Despite these many variations that have evolved over the years, I still think of this panzanella as Christina’s and am grateful to her for sharing it. It’s a perfect way to celebrate the peak tomatoes of summer.

Fava Bean Salads

Friends who like fava beans joined us for dinner this week and I took the opportunity to explore new ways to serve these rich, flavorful beans.  My fava crop is a little late this year because I planted late so the mid-August timing for a fava-themed dinner was good.

My quest for new recipes began, as it sometimes does, with a search of the New York Times Cooking site.  Entering “fava bean recipes” yielded lots of inspiring titles and photos of fava bean purees, salads, pasta sauces, soups, stews and risottos, and, most useful to me, names of the recipe authors so I could go to cooks whose recipes I’ve liked in the past.  David Tanis, Melissa Clark and Martha Rose Shulman are three favorites.

Imagining salads for this summer meal, I was drawn to David Tanis’s recipe for Burrata With Fava Beans, Fennel and Celery as well as to a favorite Tanis recipe I’ve made before: Fresh Multi-Bean Salad with Charred Red Onion.  Offering more inspiration, Martha Rose Shulman’s Green Bean and Fava Bean Salad With Walnuts also combines favas with green beans, and her Rainbow Quinoa Salad With Fava Beans and Herbs suggests a tasty pairing of favas and quinoa.

As often happens when ingredients overlap among recipes, I started combining recipes. Inspired by Shulman’s pairing of favas and quinoa, I decided to serve Tanis’s Fresh Multi-Bean Salad with Charred Red Onion on a bed of red quinoa. Another change I made to the Tanis recipe was to sauté the fava beans in olive oil, garlic and chopped rosemary until they were soft rather than adding them raw.  I like the sharp, earthy flavor of raw fava beans but sautéing brings out a deeper richness that worked well with the sweet bean flavors of the cooked pole beans.

Fava, beans, charred onions

As also often happens, I substituted some ingredients.  I wanted to make Tanis’s Burrata With Fava Beans, Fennel and Celery, but I don’t have any celery in my kitchen garden. Remembering a salad of Golden Beets with Fava Beans and Mint I’d made from from Deborah Madison’s Vegetable Literacy, I substituted yellow beets from my kitchen garden for the celery, peeling the beets, cutting them into ½ inch cubes and steaming them.  I left the favas raw for this salad.  The combination of the slightly bitter raw favas with the deeply sweet yellow beets and finely sliced sweet fennel was perfect dressed with a lemon vinaigrette and tossed with the creamy burrata.

Fava, beet, fennel salad

Finally, beginning the meal with favas, I made a simple fava bean purée for an appetizer, serving it with raw sweet peppers for dipping. I followed Alice Water’s recipe from Chez Panisse Vegetables.

Fava puree and peppers

3 lbs. fava beans

1/2 to 3/4 cup olive oil

salt and pepper

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine

1/4 bay leaf                       

1 small sprig rosemary           

1 sprig thyme

1/2 lemon

    1. Shell the favas discarding pods. Boil a large pot of water and blanch the favas for 1 minute. Drain and plunge in ice water. When cool pop the favas out of their skins.
    2. Warm 2/2 cup olive oil in a sautee pan. Add beans and salt. Add garlic, the herbs sprigs and a splash of water. Cook favas at a slow simmer stirring occasionally 30 minutes till they are completely soft. Add a splash of water if the beans begin to dry out.
    3. When they are done discard the herbs and mash the beans to a paste with a potato masher or puree in a food processor. Taste for seasoning and add lemon juice. If paste is at all dry add additional olive oil. Oil is an important part of the flavor so don’t be stingy. Serve at room temperature with slices of grilled baguette.


While these fava salads would make fine meals on their own, for this shared meal they complemented our friend Anne’s very delicious poblano chili relleno, stuffed with potato and cheese and topped with a spicy tomato sauce, all the vegetables in it from her garden.  High summer gardens are great inspirations for dinners with friends and we’re looking forward to more of these dinners as late summer slides into autumn.

 

The First Eggplant of Summer

I was checking the eggplant in the plastic greenhouse the other day, hoping I’d see a few small, dark purple vegetables forming among the lavender blossoms of the Galine and Diamond plants.  Instead, to my great surprise, I found, nestled in the mulch beneath the robust green plants, some really big eggplant.  Yikes!  I know it’s been warm, but I really hadn’t expected eggplant this soon. Dinner suddenly included eggplant.

Eggplant growing

Eggplant counter

Harvesting five big purple globes and bringing them to the kitchen, I turned the oven on to 475 and cut the largest two lengthwise into wedges.  I arranged the wedges on a sheet pan, brushed them generously on all sides with olive oil, sprinkled them with salt and pepper and, when the oven reached 475, I put the pan in the oven.

Eggplant wedges raw

Eggplant roastedTwenty minutes later, the wedges had softened into creamy, sweet and slightly smoky eggplant flesh.

Half of them went onto our dinner plates, a perfect side dish for basil pesto on linguine, sugar snap peas and Orange Paruche cherry tomatoes.  We ate dinner outside, celebrating the start of high summer meals.

Eggplant dinner

I put the remaining roasted eggplant into the Cuisinart to make a spread I discovered a few years ago.  This Charred Eggplant and Tahini Spread is one of the best reasons to grow eggplant.

Charred Eggplant and Tahini Spread

http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/charred-eggplant-and-tahini-spread

  • 1 large eggplant, cut lengthwise into quarters
  • ¼ cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic finely grated
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cumin

     Toasted sesame seeds

 Preheat oven to 475°. Place eggplant on a baking sheet and toss with ¼ cup oil; season with salt and pepper. Roast until lightly charred and very tender, 20–25 minutes; let cool slightly. Chop eggplant (skin and all) until almost a paste.

Mix eggplant in a medium bowl with garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, tahini, and cumin; season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with oil and top with sesame seeds.  Makes 1 and ½ cups.

Eggplant spread

There are a lot of other reasons to grow eggplant. From the remaining eggplant from this first harvest I made grilled eggplant, dried tomato and goat cheese pasta sauce from Jack Bishop’s Pasta & Verdura, 140 Vegetable Sauces for Spaghetti, Fusilli, Rigatoni, and All Other Noodles (1996).

Bishop 1

Bishop 2

Bishop 3

Eggplant pasta

Looking ahead to more eggplant harvests, there’s eggplant pizza, our favorite summer pizza, and for a dinner party or even just the two of us, Ottolenghi’s eggplant stuffed with lamb and pine nuts from his cookbook Jerusalem (2012).  Finally, as the tomatoes and peppers ripen, there is caponata, the perfect summer stew.  And with any excess eggplants, I’ll keep making the Charred Eggplant and Tahini Spread, great on sandwiches for lunch, on crackers or appetizers or simply by the spoonful.