Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Farmer's Market Finds

One of the things I love most about going to the farmer's market is the discovery of a great food that I didn't know about. I'm not talking about anything new or weird like a strange African fruit. Just varieties of things that you see in the supermarket. However, most of the produce in a supermarket has been bred for tough skins for shipping and long life. In the supermarket world, if you don't sell it, you smell it.

Everyone should know about tomatoes at the farmer's market. They are just like you remember as a kid, very red, firm texture, mixture of sweet and acid. Those are easy.

Here are some new ones:

Eggplant. The specific variety here is called Listada de Gandia. This eggplant is actually egg-shaped, about 4 inches long. The skin is very thin and it has very few seeds. It is great on the grill, where it doesn't fall apart like regular black eggplants. This is actually quite meaty when cooked, and not bitter at all. Slice it into 1/4 inch slices, put a little salt on it and let it sit for a few minutes. Turn it over, put a little salt on the other side and let it sit again for a few minutes. Then dry it off, put a little pepper on it then a little olive oil and drop it on the grill on a medium direct heat. Don't let it burn, but its done when nicely browned.

Okra. In know, green slimmy stuff. Not Alabama Red Okra. It is truly red, and about the size of a large jalapeno, not long and skinny. The skin is very tender and it has more flesh than slime. Cut the stem off and slice the rest into 1/4 in. slices. Put in a bowl and mix in some salt, pepper and olive oil to coat. Put on a sheet pan and place in a hot oven, about 425 degrees. Let them roast for about 5 minutes then check them. If they have started to brown where they are resting on the pan, turn them as best you can to the other side with a spatula and put back in the over to roast again. They are done when they are golden brown and delicious on both sides. Pull them out, put in a bowl and eat like popcorn.

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