Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Fried Red Spanish Eggplant

These red Spanish eggplants were purchased this past Sunday at the Dupont Circle Farmers Market in Washington, D.C., which which is open Sunday morning year round. As an habitue of our own downtown Baltimore Farmers Market since its incipience 20 or so years ago, making the run all the way to D.C was a stretch, but everything about the whole scene made the trip worth it. Totally upscale and very crowded though much smaller, The Dupont Circle Market reminded me more of San Francisco's Ferry Terminal Farmers Market than any other such market I've ever had the pleasure of visiting. The Dupont Circle Farmers Market is run by Freshfarm Markets, which is also responsible for seven other farmers markets in the Chesapeake Bay region, including the one at our own Harbor East on Saturday mornings. It's Freshfarm's largest with about 30 vendors, all of whom are regional producers. The prices, while a tad higher than here in Baltimore, are commensurate with the top-notch quality.

The red Spanish eggplants, of which I purchased a box of five for $3.50, were a treat I'd never before seen or heard of. Prior to posting, I did some research on the web and came up with very little beyond a couple of posts by bloggers who were as fascinated as they were curious about how to cook these beautiful vegetables. I cooked them according to the same basic recipe I would go with for any relatively small eggplant, and it worked great. Their red skin crisped distinctively and beautifully. The taste, flavor, and texture of the flesh was like that of any other small eggplant similarly prepared. Here's the recipe I've been using my whole life:

Red eggplants--however many you need
salt and pepper
Slice eggplants into 1/4 inch slices, place in a bowl or on a plate, sprinkle with salt, toss, and then wait 30 minutes for them to sweat. Dry with paper towels and coat with flour that's been seasoned with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a skillet. Add the eggplant slices and fry over medium-high heat, turning once, so that the flesh on each side is browned but nowhere near burned. Remove with a spotted spatula to a plate or shallow pan covered with a double thickness of paper towels for a minute or two and serve.