Maui Girl Cooks

“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” Luciano Pavarotti


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Fresh from the Farmers Market

My husband came home with some fabulous goodies from the Upcountry Maui Farmers Market yesterday.  Of course, this week was no different than any other, because he always comes home with great stuff…year round.  When you have a vibrant market that is overflowing with beautiful, top quality local food, you can’t go wrong…unless you get there late, and miss out on the best stuff.  Which is why my husband goes.  At this time of the year, he is at the market by 6:20 am, because things get going early in Maui.

Spring Mix 2

This pretty salad mix is a delightful blend of all kinds of greens, from bitter to sweet.  I cannot tell you what’s in it, beyond mizuna, romaine, baby kale and some lovely nasturtium blossoms.  It’s delicious on its own, or as part of a “regular” lettuce salad.  The little beet greens you see in the picture came from a big bunch of beets that had their greens attached.  I’ve been separating out the small tender beet greens and putting them into the lettuce bag for salads…delicious.  Which brings me to some “regular” lettuce that is absolutely gorgeous & crisp.  After I wash lettuce, it’s a great treat to eat a bowl of it, with a grind of salt, freshly ground pepper, a drizzle of good olive oil & sometimes a splash of red wine vinegar.  Freshly picked lettuce is wonderful and doesn’t need much adornment.

Red leaf lettuce

We are fortunate to have many varieties of avocado trees in Maui.  I have no idea what variety these are, but I can’t wait to cut one open.  The apple bananas are also from the market and are one of many varieties of bananas grown here in the islands.

Bananas & avocados

Papayas are in now and they are delicious!  I would say that papayas are an acquired taste, and if you aren’t quite there yet, try one with a splash of lime juice.  That’s how I came to enjoy this tropical fruit.

Last, but certainly not least, are these eggplants.  I have finally come around to enjoying  something other than the Italian Globe eggplant.  Yes, I have embraced the long, slender eggplant.  I’ve been making eggplant broiled with a mixture of extra virgin olive oil and pomegranate molasses {a new favorite ingredient, along with the labneh that tops the eggplant}.  Find the recipe here.  I’ve written about another favorite way to serve eggplant here.   I haven’t had any pomegranate arils for the garnish for this dish, so I’ve been using fresh cilantro or basil.  It’s delicious, but I’m sure the pomegranate arils would be even better, because their tartness would provide a nice balance to the richness of the eggplant & labneh.

IMG_5695

This cute towel is from our good friends Debbie & Bill!

What did you buy at your farmers market this week?

Bon appetit!

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Eggplant Tricolore

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“Gleaming skin;  a plump elongated shape;  the eggplant is a vegetable you’d want to caress with your eyes and fingers, even if you didn’t know its luscious flavor.”  by Roger Verge

Although it is a vegetable {actually, it is a fruit, but that’s another discussion} with varied preparations, eggplant parmigiana is the quintessential eggplant dish for many, however it is not one of my favorite ways to enjoy eggplant.  My mom used to sauté eggplant slices until they were golden brown, and I loved eating them with catsup {not a kid thing…I still love catsup & so does my husband}. Sometimes I roast thick slices of eggplant & happily enjoy them dipped into organic catsup.  I prefer Italian Globe eggplants, over the other slender varieties {Thai, Indian, Japanese, etc.}.

Eggplant is one of those foods that, I suspect, prompts strong feelings.  While I have not researched this matter, I think people tend to love or hate eggplant.  The Flavor Bible {have you seen this book yet?} describes eggplant’s taste as “bitter,” a taste which does not have as many fans as sweet, salty, sour, etc.

Many years ago, Erika, a friend & coworker, introduced me to vegetarian food by way of Laurel’s Kitchen, a book from which I prepared & enjoyed many dishes.  In fact, it was my “go to” cookbook for a long time.  I made Laurel’s falafel recipe & had my first taste of Middle Eastern food, which I now consider the cuisine I most want to eat.  Which brings me back to eggplant.  One of my new favorite ways of enjoying eggplant comes from Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook Plenty.  It is quick to make, stunning on a platter & super delicious.  Regardless of your feelings toward eggplant, I am of the opinion that you should make this recipe; just try it.  I think Eggplant Tricolore may have the power to turn you into a lover of eggplant.  Perhaps the dressing balances the eggplant’s inherent bitterness, which makes this a dish that goes down easily, like a fine wine.  My husband & I can polish off 2 eggplants in one sitting!

If you make this, snap a photo & send it with a comment on how you liked it.

Eggplant slices ready for roasting

Eggplant Slices Ready for Roasting

Roasted eggplant slices

Roasted Eggplant Slices

Eggplant Tricolore 2

Eggplant Tricolore

Eggplant Tricolore {and more}
adapted from Plenty {Ottolenghi}

2-3 medium eggplants {preferably Italian globe variety}

olive oil

Maldon sea salt & black pepper

1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 3/8” dice

10 cherry tomatoes, quartered

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

3 1/2 tbsp capers, plus 1 tbsp of the caper brine

5 oz. top-quality buffalo mozzarella

1 cup picked coriander {cilantro} leaves

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cut the eggplants widthwise into 3/4-inch-thick slices.  Place the slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil.  Brush them generously on both sides with plenty of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast in the oven for 25”-35,” or until the eggplants are soft and golden brown.  Allow to cool down.

Mix together the bell pepper, tomatoes, vinegar, capers, caper brine and 2 tbsp of olive oil.  Set aside for at least 30” {the mix can be kept refrigerated for several days; the flavors will deepen over time}.

To serve, arrange the eggplant slices, slightly overlapping, on a serving dish {a meat platter is the perfect size for 2 medium eggplants}.  Break the cheese up and scatter on top.  Spoon over the dressing and scatter with the cilantro.  Enjoy!

Notes:

  • I always use extra virgin olive oil
  • I always use freshly ground pepper
  • Maldon salt is worth seeking out, but you can substitute another crunchy salt such as Fleur de Sel
  • yellow or orange peppers work best color-wise, but use what you have
  • I have used tomatoes other than cherry tomatoes, with excellent results
  • The eggplant can be roasted up to a day ahead and refrigerated
  • I have always used lebni {Lebanese kefir cheese} instead of mozzarella & it is delicious.  Soft goat cheese would also be delicious!
  • Salting eggplant for 30” or so is supposed to draw out the bitterness, but I usually do not do this.  Possibly this is valuable for older eggplants with large seeds, but ours come from the farmers’ market and are recently picked.
  • You can use fresh basil instead of cilantro if you desire
  • This is great with a glass of red wine!

Eggplant Tricolore 1

Bon appetit!

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