Thursday, August 26, 2010

Fruits of Summer, Solanum Style! Pt 2

Eggplant!  Beautiful, glossy, still-life works of art from my garden, turned into baked eggplant parmesan!  No grease, no frying, just delectable bites of crunchy, sauced, cheesy eggplant!

Eggplants, like tomatoes and potatoes, are a member of the Solanaceae family, genus Solanum.  This family is also known as the nightshade family, which includes some plants that are deadly!  But eggplant is certainly only deadly in one way: in eggplant parmesan!

For a 9x13 pan of double-decker eggplant parm, plan on at least 2-1/2 lbs of eggplant.  I used 4 lbs and went for three layers.  You'll also need the following:

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Fruits of Summer, Solanum Style! Pt 1

First, my apologies for a month-long hiatus without any warning.  Gardening duties and my social life required a little attention (not to mention my work with the NH Rivers Council)!  Here in the northeast there has been minimal rainfall--at least in terms of what vegetation requires (good, long soaking rains).  So in addition to pruning/thinning, weeding, rotating crops (um, in my case, small beds) and staying on top of harvesting, I've also had to deal with the "dreaded hose" (I hate having to tap into an aquifer!).  Regardless, our heirloom tomato plants have provided plenty of fruit (as have our eggplants, but more on those in the next post, promise - they're so easy to grow and super fun to experience!).  Here's a glimpse of the varieties of tomato we're growing this summer:

Clockwise from 9 o'clock: One slice of Brandywine (super unbelievable flavor!); two slices of Cherokee Purple (not just great flavor, but unique coloring as well); one slice of Black Prince (a small version of the Cherokee, really); and two slices of Green Zebras nestled in with some grape tomatoes.  Zebras are not heirlooms, but they've been grown for a very long time without any muddling, so they tend to get sold under the same category.

And what to make to capture the essence of these babies?  You could always settle for a plate of sliced juicy toms with fresh mozzarella cheese and torn basil leaves, finished with a generous swirl of luscious olive oil and a healthy sprinkling of coarse sea salt!  (I'm drooling already....)  But how about a bowl of gorgeous gazapacho?  It's truly summer's elixir, and I have just the recipe for you in four easy steps!