I went to the farmer’s market on Sunday. Our farmer’s market should really be called the vendors who drive up from commercial operations in NC market. The fruits and vegetables are conventional, to use Whole Food’s delicate term. Maybe a little fresher than I might get at the store, but no better.
However, there I was and the cupboards were bare and I had had nothing but protein shakes for two days, so I forged ahead. I found two eggplants and some small yellow tomatoes. No basil to be had. Basil scented soap? Basil scented candles? Dried basil in a cunning little wreath tied up with raffia and adorned with small wooden discs painted to resemble genetically modified tomatoes? Yes, Yes and Yes. Fresh basil? No.
I had chosen one white eggplant and one traditional purple eggplant. I have always shied away from the white ones. As with those spooky white asparagus, they look like something that has spent so long underground in solitary confinement that they have certainly developed a dangerous psychosis and are best avoided. No eye contact, no sudden movements, reach slowly for the purple eggplant and sidle away.
But now the colorless globes in their Aryan brotherhood get-ups were all around me. I had to take one. I cooked it as soon as I got home, before it could be a bad influence on the purple eggplant. I cooked them together so I can’t say if one tasted better.
This is what I did. Cut the eggplants into bite sized pieces and spread them across a sheet pan. Doused them with olive oil and salt and roasted them in a 450 oven. I pretty much CTSOOTF*. When they were browned and nearly crispy, I took them out and let them cool. Then I tossed in some halved cherry tomatoes, some basil I had found at the store, a splash of balsamic, more salt and a few grinds of pepper.
This is what I remember of a recipe that I got from a friend’s cousin in Millbrook NY of all places. It is marvelous. The eggplant is soft, oily and salty, the balsamic is sweet, and the tomatoes are there so you can call it a salad.
*"Cooked the shit out of the fuckers."