August 2016 – Veggie of the Month

girls with eggplant

This month’s vegetable is the crowning jewel of the farm – eggplant! The shiny shades of purple complete our rainbow of produce. Eggplant is a culturally popular food across the world, which makes it a great vegetable for us to offer the community, reaching many cultures. This popularly purple vegetable gives our bodies protein, fiber, vitamins K and B6. No matter your palate, it’s a great time of year to experiment with recipes that deliciously and nutritiously dish up eggplant!

Just as tomatoes are classified as a fruit in biology, eggplant is actually considered a berry, biologically speaking. In cooking though, of course, just like tomatoes, it’s a vegetable! Eggplant has meaty texture and small edible seeds inside. This fleshy inside acts like a sponge in cooking to absorb flavors, thus eggplant is often cooked and enjoyed in sauces. Shapes vary from small and egg shaped, to large like a squash, to long and thin and even artfully curved. Again, each of these shapes can lend themselves to different recipes. Colors vary from white, to pink, purple and even black, but flavor doesn’t drastically change based on color. Eggplants came from Asia, and were popular in the Near East long before they reached Europe. Then, in the Middle Ages, traders brought a certain kind of eggplant to Europe, a rare white variety shaped just like a chicken egg. So the vegetable was called eggplant, and the name stuck, even when the familiar purple eggplant reached Europe years later. Eggplants were also called mad apples in some places, because people thought that eating an eggplant would make you go insane!

It turns out that eating eggplant doesn’t make you go insane…but you know what would be crazy? If you didn’t enjoy a dish with eggplant in it this month! Eggplant is delicious grilled, stir-fried, and roasted, in salad, on pizza, in wraps and sandwiches, and pasta.  Check out our Pinterest board of recipes and then head to your local eggplant source! If an eggplant is fresh, when you press your finger against it, the fingerprint will disappear quickly. Thank you for all your help providing fresh eggplant for the community this month! Come join us for the harvest!

Roasted Eggplant Soup

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen. Serves 4.

3 medium tomatoes, halved
1 large eggplant (about 1 1/2 pounds), halved lengthwise
1 small onion, halved
6 large garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
4 cups chicken stock or vegetable broth
1/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 400°F. Arrange tomatoes, eggplant, onion and garlic on a large baking sheet. Brush or drizzle vegetables with oil then roast them for 20 minutes, pausing only to remove the garlic cloves and returning the pans to the oven for another 25 minutes, until the remaining vegetables are tender. Remove from oven and scoop eggplant flesh from skin into a heavy, large saucepan or soup pot. Add the rest of the vegetables, the thyme and the chicken or vegetable stock and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until onion is very tender, about 45 minutes.

Working in batches, puree soup in blender until it is as smooth as you’d like it to be. (Or, if you have an immersion blender, you can do this in the pot.) Back in the pot, add the cream and bring the soup back to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper.

Read the rest of the August 2016 Sprout!

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