Italian eggplants are big and meaty but not very interesting — sounds like a few of my past love interests! But it really doesn’t have to be that way because there is quite a selection of eggplants, in a variety of colors, sizes and flavors.
Last year I discovered some beautiful Udumalapet eggplants at the farmers market. They were absolutely stunning-looking: fuchsia with beautiful zebra stripes. So this year when I set off to the nursery to pick summer seedlings I scoured my sources until I discovered one that was similar called Bianca Rosa. This beautiful eggplant is roundish, white and pink, and is quite tasty; I’ve enjoyed concocting dishes revolving around its exquisite flavor. It rivals the taste of the Japanese eggplant that has always been my favorite and a constant in my summer garden.
My favorite way to prepare eggplant is to roast it in the oven with a few other summer compatriots. It’s an easy and delicious side dish that will have your family eating their veggies and asking for more. Any bell pepper will do but I prefer colorful dishes, so if you use Italian zucchini, choose an orange or red bell pepper. I love the white balsamic in this recipe, as it adds a bit of sweetness and a bright kick.
Roasted Summer Veggies
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
1 large Japanese eggplant or eggplant of your choice
1 small onion
1 zucchini or yellow squash
1 orange or red bell pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Pinch of red pepper flakes
5 basil leaves
Cut veggies into 1” pieces. Toss the veggies in a bowl with the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper flakes and then bake on a sheet pan for 20-25 minutes. Occasionally, check on your veggies and give them a good shake to move them around. When the veggies are cooked through, season to taste with additional salt and pepper if need be. Then tear the basil leaves over the veggies and serve.
Freelancing … and a new dip is born
I made a batch this morning because I had a notion that it might make a good dip. I put the warmed veggies in the blender with 1 small clove of garlic and a pinch of salt, gave it a whirl, and it was absolutely delicious. I will serve it with warmed pitas to guests tonight. This is a great way to repurpose leftovers!