I subscribed to a CSA this year. First time, long time coming. While it means deliciously fresh, local (ie. guilt free) produce, organic (in this case), well loved, lip-smacking good, it also means.....a little bit of strife. Box number one glared up at me with it's purple sheen, hiding beneath butter lettuce, pressed between English cucumbers and heirloom tomatoes. Eggplant. Can you see it?
What to do with this gummy, oddly seeded, tough, flavorless aubergine? Wikipedia tells me that this lovely little veggie (sometimes a fruit) only arrived in the west circa 1500, hardly a time when my people were developing their palates. Clearly mine still has not developed a taste for this. As a matter of fact, neither has the Cap'n nor Trodimon's. We have three non-believers that need to be converted. Nothing from box #1 will go to waste.
I stumble upon this little recipe and the wheels start to turn. I wasn't craving an Asian taste. Last night's soup satisfied that taste bookmark for the week. But I like the idea. Cut a slit in 3/4" eggplant rounds and stuff it full of...something. This I can work with.
Italian Stuffed Eggplant
1 eggplant, sliced into 3/4" rounds, and slit 2" wide
1 cup ricotta
3 links of hot Italian sausage, de-cased, browned and broken into small bits
2 t freshly ground fennel
1 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/8 inch strips
8 oz whole wheat thin spaghetti
1 jar vodka marinara
2 T chopped Italian parsley
Salt & pepper
Prepare spaghetti according to package instructions. Toss with 1/3 c marinara sauce to keep the pasta from sticking. Fire up your grill. Combine ricotta, sausage, fennel, and salt and pepper to taste. Stuff eggplant rounds with ricotta mix. Brush eggplant and zucchini with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill zucchini and eggplant for 5 minutes each side, or until nice char marks develop. Plate pasta, cross 2 zucchini strips and place eggplant atop pasta pile. Spoon extra marinara atop eggplant and sprinkle with parsley.
*line your grill with aluminum foil to keep your eggplant from sticking to the grill.
** to be enjoyed on a hot summer night after biking a gallon of blue wood stain 4 miles home. This is going to be a picnic table deserving of such hard-fought-for-meals.