Happily Ever After

Once upon a time...there was a family with no dinner, no patience, and a bag full of fairy tale eggplants. Golden brown after 15 minutes on the grill, these tiny eggplants are sweet, satisfying, and ready to eat. And they all lived happily ever after.

Last weekend at the farmers market, I saw a carton of adorable baby eggplants striped white and amethyst with a little sign in front of them exclaiming, "Fairy Tale Eggplants, First of the Season!" Based on name alone, I knew I had to try cooking them. I set about researching these lovely little eggplants that were smaller than my iPhone and learned that they are delicious even when prepared quite simply. All you have to do is roast them to a toasty brown, and they'll be perfect.

Then, I promptly forgot to cook them. Saddened by my failure to utilize my screamingly fresh produce, I sadly placed them in the fridge.In my research, I learned that eggplants are used to warmer climates, and refrigerators are actually too chilly for the sensitive veggies. Instead of just dropping them in the crisper, wrap them in a dish towel to provide some additional insulation (thanks Deborah Madison). So with a heavy heart, I put my little beauties in the fridge for the next day.

After a long day of work, the last thing I actually wanted to do was cook.  Between my guilt at neglecting my produce and the responsibility of making dinner, I rose to the occasion and came home ready to do battle with the grill.  Luckily the weather is lovely (who would think D.C. in July could ever be described as anything other than disgusting?), so I set about the eggplant challenge with renewed vigor.

I sliced off the green tops of the plants, split them lengthwise, and drizzled them with olive oil and a dash of kosher salt (sea salt is also an acceptable choice). I fired up the grill to about 400/450 degrees and laid each slice on the grill. Then, I simply grilled them for about 8-10 min, flipped them and let them cook for another 5, and they were done. The trick is to just flip them when they're brown.  As I said, truly simple. The eggplants were brown and caramelized, adding a truly satisfying element to dinner. The eggplants, innately sweet and almost meaty, were lent a lightly salty flavor from the quick oil and salt rub before grilling. Hot, salty-sweet, and substantial, these fairy tale eggplants were the hit of the evening, and, dare I say, the summer. The End.

Written by: Annie Epstein


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