I recently had the opportunity to do a little shopping at Pete’s Produce Farm off of Route 926 in Edgemont, a spot I used to frequent A LOT when I lived in the ’hood—and, well, before it moved to its now years-old digs. This is one place where I can say quality did not decline when more products and more space were added. The variety of fruit and vegetables is impressive, particularly this time of year, when Mother Nature’s cup runneth over.
A hankering for eggplant prompted me to take home a couple white eggplants, labeled as the most tender of the breed. I didn’t have a whole lot of pre-cooking thought; just washed the skin, split them down the middle, and cut them into large chunks alongside similarly cut purple eggplant—I can’t remember that variety, but it was short and stout like a round squash. I salted them for about an hour to draw out any bitterness, which I wasn’t sure was necessary but was ingrained in my cooking habits. After patting them dry, I added several skinless garlic cloves, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and freshly ground pepper. Into a 400-degree oven, they went. I checked on them once in a while, but refrained from turning them until the last half hour. (I also turned the oven down to 350, then 300, and then off for the last half of their cooking time.)
I’d like to say I had a scientific bent, but actually, I just threw them in the oven. And that is the good news: so effortless and so fabulous! I chose not to put anything on them because I really didn’t know how I would eat them—in pasta, on a salad, between a baguette—which proved to be the right decision. And, true to what I had read, the white eggplant was far creamier and sweeter than the purple. I was worried about the abundance of seeds, but really, they tasted fine. The skin, too, surprised me—I didn’t know at the time to remove it because of its reputation for being tough. I didn’t find that at all, though, so maybe it was just beginner’s luck.
Anyway, hats off to Pete’s for turning me on to a new variety of my favorite veggie (I say that about every vegetable). Since my recipe isn’t really a recipe, I came up with this one from (where else?) Pete’s Produce. I’m still working on a proper explanation of gumbroit, but here it is:
Makes 4 servings
• 3 T. olive oil
• 2 onions, diced
• 2 cloves fresh garlic
• 2 zucchini, cubed
• 1 eggplant, cubed
• 2 bell peppers, diced
• 1 lb. fresh string beans, cut into pieces
• 2 fresh tomatoes
• 1 T. oregano
• Dash of salt
In a large skillet, pour in the oil, and add the diced onions and garlic; sauté until golden brown. Add the fresh vegetables, oregano and salt. Stir and sauté for five more minutes.
Better Late Than Never: We just realized that we could’ve recuperated from writing all those “Best of the Main Line” blurbs with a pitcher of Glenmorgan’s Colonial Lemonade, a lip-puckering combination of Philadelphia-made Bluecoat Gin, Cointreau, fresh lemon juice and simple syrup. For $9, it should come in a pitcher, but hey, we’ll settle for a frosty martini glass. Besides, who are we kidding? Imbibing hasn’t been cost effective on the Line or in Philly for years.