The CSA Spotlight this week is all about a controversial secret. Maybe you already know it. But I couldn't take the risk that you don't. It relates to eggplant (or aubergine if you want to sound fancy or are in the UK.) But before I get to that, these are our options this week, and what I’m doing with them:
- 1.5 lbs. of Mixed Summer Squash or 1 Eggplant – Grill it (see below for prep tips!)
- 1/2 pint Cherry Tomato or 2 Green Peppers – These will be our first farm fresh tomatoes of the year! A few will be eaten on their own so I can savor the flavor, and the others are going into salad.
- 6 Slicing Cucumbers or 1 bunch Carrots – This was a tricky one. 6 cucumbers feels overwhelming, but it seems like the best deal! We'll do our normal snacks with hummus, add to the salad, and if we have any leftover, I think I'll juice 'em or maybe pair with watermelon + feta (T$'s idea!)
- 1 head Garlic – Yum! Put it in #allthethings!
- 1 bunch of Cilantro or Parsley or Dill – I am one of the folks that likes cilantro, and luckily so is T$... so I'll chop and add it to a salad.
Back to our veggie of the week! As I mentioned last week, it's one of of my favorite veggies, but one of my clients revealed that she hated making eggplant for her family because she
doesn't didn't like it. And then she discovered why... she'd been missing a step in the prep. And now she's obsessed with it, which is perfect since it's in season in NE! So I thought it would be good to share (with some other 411), in case you're in the same boat!
Eggplants are in a veggie class called "nightshades," which also includes tomatoes, sweet peppers and potatoes. There is anecdotal evidence that some people are sensitive to this family of veggies, and may feel more symptoms from their inflammatory conditions when they eat them. (It's not extremely common, but email me if you think you're in this group – I can help you figure it out!)
Like most veggies, there are multiple types of eggplants: "regular," white, Italian (smaller than the regular), graffiti/zebra (a personal favorite for the designer in me), Chinese (they're smaller and longer, and get softer than the others when cooked).
Now for the controversial preparation trick.
Salt. Yes, salt. According to some people (including my mom + my client), going through the following process takes the bitterness out of this beautious veggie, and it absorbs less oil if you're frying or roasting. Other people swear that it makes no difference and that the extra salt + effort isn't worth it. I'm not sure if it's all in my head, but I do think it helps for the big plump eggplants, yet don't feel the need for the thinner, Chinese variety. There's only one way to know... try it for yourself!
Prepping Your Eggplant: Slice/chop the eggplant and sprinkle evenly with salt. Transfer to a colander over a bowl and let it drain for about 20-30 minutes. Put the colander in the sink and remove the salt by rinsing all of the eggplant under cold water. Drain and pat dry the rinsed eggplant pieces, a few at a time, with a paper towel. Cook as desired.
Do you have an opinionl?! To salt or not to salt, that is the question! Comment above or tell me on FB!