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Grow Local: Red Planet Vegetables Eggplant

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

 

There’s so many different fruits and vegetables being harvested right now that it’s hard to pick just one each column. However, as I was walking through the Providence/Armory Farmers Market last week my eye kept getting drawn to some beautiful eggplants at the Little City Growers stand. I stopped to pick some up and chatted with Catherine Mardosa of Red Planet Vegetables, one of the farms that are part of the Little City Growers Cooperative.

Red Planet Vegetables has been around for seven seasons now. They started off as an urban farm in Providence and for the past three years they also farm on the historic Mathewson Farm in Johnston. Catherine is partnered with Matt Tracy at Red Planet and they sell their vegetables to restaurants through the cooperative along with farmers markets for the general public. There was a lot of great produce at their stand, including some jalapenos and tomatillos I bought. But that’s another column.

Catherine introduced me to her favorite eggplant, the Rosa Bianca. That’s the somewhat white, rounder looking eggplant. She described it as milder and sweeter, really firm with tiny seeds and never bitter, not tasting like the darker purple American eggplant. Red Planet also had Listada de Gandia eggplant—the more stripe-y one as Catherine put it—as well as the long Japanese eggplant.

I asked Catherine how she liked her eggplant and she told me she eats the Rosa Bianca simply sliced, fried in olive oil and sprinkled with some raw garlic, which sounded delicious. I often roast eggplant on the grill and then squeeze out the flesh to make baba ghanoush. But this week I wanted to share with you a vegetarian baked eggplant recipe that is a great alternative to the usual grilling or eggplant Parmesan. It’s also a good dish for the approaching cooler weather.

Baked Eggplant

Ingredients:

3 Tbs olive oil

1 lb. eggplant, cut into ½” cubes

2 green bell pepper, diced

2 ribs celery, diced

1 medium onion, diced

¼ cup fresh basil, chopped

¼ cup fresh mint, chopped

1 cup grated Parmesan

½ cup heavy cream

1 cup bread crumbs

salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 375F.

Place a large oven-safe sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, when it is hot, add the eggplant  and cook for a minute. Add pepper, celery and onion and cook for 3 minutes or until they begin to soften. Remove from the heat and add the remaining ingredients, tossing well to combine. Place the pan in the oven and cook for 20 minutes.

Red Planet Vegetables   544 Greenville Ave., Johnston, RI 02919   401-273-0914

Photos David Dadekian
 

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