I just got this eggplant; now what do I do with it?

Photo courtesy of
‘Eggplant (Beatrice)’
courtesy of ‘iLoveButter’

Remember when we talked this spring about what to do when you’ve got more farmer’s market produce than you can use? Good times. Except, all that information is out of season now! It’s a whole new set of intimidating fruits and vegetables to deal with now. Oh noes! Relax, DC: I am here to help.

With all the weather extremes we’ve been having, some produce has been coming in at odd times (stone fruits were really early) and that’s messed up my routine a bit. But now that it’s late summer, it’s getting to be time for eggplant. And I don’t know if you are weak like me, but I have been known to buy stuff I’ve never cooked at the farmer’s market just because it looks so freaking pretty. Yeah, eggplant. And now I get it in my CSA box.

The thing about eggplant is that its flesh holds a lot of water and the skin can be kind of bitter. So your best bet preparations will account for that. Since squash and tomatoes are also in season right now, it’s a great time for ratatouille. If you’ve got your heart set on a pretty sliced ratatouille like the animated rat made, you can do that too with a mandoline.

If that doesn’t seem appetizing, or if someone in your house just doesn’t like eggplant, there’s the classic “disguise it” strategy: Eggplant Parmesan. I always say, if you don’t like how something tastes, you can always bread it, fry it, and cover it in tomato sauce and cheese. And yes, Alton Brown does say that eggplant absorbs too much oil, but I found that the oven-frying technique in the linked recipe prevented that. So, yay. Leftovers can get kind of soggy, but if you throw it on a bun and make a sandwich out of it, you won’t notice. Alternately, you can try Brown’s faux eggplant pasta concoction, but I haven’t tried that one myself, so you’re on your own there.

But eggplant parm has a lot of steps, so it’s kind of a weekend project. If you need something easier, you can try baba ghanouj. It’s a dip that originated in Lebanon, and at its most basic it’s seasoned more or less like hummus, and yet manages to taste not at all like hummus. It’s also really forgiving of substitutions and personal preferences for seasonings.

Okay, so you’ve mastered eggplant, but you’ve got green beans coming out of your ears. If you’ve taken our advice and bought a canner, it’s a good time to make dilly beans. If you don’t think you’d eat a lot of pickled green beans, give them to your friends because they’re good in Bloody Marys. (Once again, making the most out of summer produce comes back to alcohol.)

But the easiest thing to do is just blanch and freeze your green beans. You do know how to blanch, don’t you? No? It’s simple: bring a few quarts of water to boil. Throw in a few pinches of salt. Toss your green beans in and let them boil just until their color brightens up. Then strain them out of the water and dump them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Blot the water off them, throw them in a plastic bag, throw the bag in the freezer until it’s January and you’re desperate for some sign of summer.

What are your suggestions for getting the most out of late summer produce? No, seriously- I have more melon than I can possibly hope to eat in fruit salad form. What should I do with it?

Tiffany Baxendell Bridge is an Internet enthusiast and an incurable smartass. When not heckling the neighborhood political scene on Twitter, she can be found goofing off with her ukulele, Bollywood dancing, or obsessing about cult TV. She is That Woman With the Baby In the Bar.

Tiffany lives in Brookland with her husband Tom, son Charlie, and two high-maintenance cats. Read why Tiffany loves DC.

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Flickr 

5 thoughts on “I just got this eggplant; now what do I do with it?

  1. I put together a cookbook with all the recipes from cooking with my CSA box.
    Tomato Melon Salad
    2/3 cup plain Greek nonfat yogurt
    Freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon (1 tablespoon)
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    Salt to taste
    1 melon, such as cantaloupe or honeydew, cut in half and seeded
    4 medium (1 to 1 1/4 pounds) tomatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
    1 head green- or red-leaf lettuce (washed and spin-dried), torn into bite-size pieces
    1 cup cooked corn kernels (fresh, canned or frozen and defrosted)

    Combine the yogurt, lemon juice, oil and salt to taste in a small bowl; mix well.
    Use a melon baller to scoop out round balls of melon; place the balls in a large salad bowl and add the tomatoes, lettuce and corn. Add the yogurt dressing and toss gently to combine. Serve immediately.

  2. I pureed canteloupe and mixed it with honey and plain yougurt…it’s a good smoothie (especially with oatmeal or wheat germ or nuts) or you could freeze it into popsicles.

  3. Bring in sliced melon to your office! Several co-workers have done that this summer, and I will next week since we got two cantaloupes in our CSA and hadn’t yet finished the one from the week before!