During the summer and early fall my husband and I have a Saturday morning ritual of going to the local farmers’ market. It’s been a new ritual for us, as over the years we participated in a CSA with a single local farm. This year we decided to frequent farmers’ markets instead in part so that we could get to know new neighbors, but also so that we could explore new varieties of vegetables from a wide range of growers.
This past Saturday was our last visit for the season, and I already miss it. Located in a field in Norwich, Vermont, the stalls are always filled with artists, artisan cheese makers, bakers with everything from savory olive bread to seasonal fruit pies, and, of course farmers. While we enjoyed a little bit of flavor from everyone, we were drawn most often to a small stand in the corner of the market. Managed by two women and a charming toddler, we found their tomatoes and eggplant in all sorts of varieties and colors we’d not known before. Their meat was flavored with the fields where their animals pastured, and their excitement for their work came home with us in our basket. Putting Down Roots Farm, in South Royalton, Vermont, has become a new favorite resource for flavor and inspiration.
This Roasted Baby Eggplant in Fresh Tomato Sauce is made almost entirely from ingredients from the farmers’ market and local vendors (see listing at the end of this post). Colorful, tiny eggplant are bathed in Turkish olive oil and sprinkled with Turkish spices, then roasted in the oven until deeply browned and tender. While they roast, a quick fresh tomato sauce is prepared on the stove top. It’s a simple sauce that’s flavored with fresh garlic and finished with balsamic vinegar. When the eggplants are ready, they are covered with the sauce and a few spoonfuls of softened goat cheese, then roasted again until both the sauce and cheese are bubbly and tender. We ate them alongside some fresh pasta with pesto sauce, but they are hearty enough to make a main course. Just add some bread and wine, and you are all set.
Thank you for all your warm words in response my email last week. You are my generous readers and friends.
Look forward to more recipes soon. I am back.
I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, gathering flavors, soon.
Roasted Baby Eggplant with Fresh Tomato Sauce
Yield: 2 to 4 Servings
For the eggplants—
About ½ cup olive oil
6 baby eggplants, about 2 pounds
Handful fresh sage leaves, rinsed and lightly chopped
1 teaspoon dried Maresh pepper or other pepper flakes
About ¼ cup olive oil
For the tomato sauce—
Ripe tomatoes, about 2 pounds, rinsed and quartered
½ head garlic, peeled and minced
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup soft goat cheese, at room temperature
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Coat an 11-inch skillet with olive oil.
Rinse the eggplants and split them in half lengthwise. Place them, skin side down, into the prepared pan. Drizzle with olive oil to coat and sprinkle with fresh sage leaves, salt and Maresh pepper. Place in the oven and roast until tender, about 45 minutes.
While the eggplants are roasting, place soup pot large enough to hold the tomatoes on the stovetop, add the olive oil and place over high heat. When the oil is hot, at the tomatoes and garlic. Stir to combine, reduce the heat on the stove to simmer, and simmer until the tomatoes are tender with their juices flowing. Remove from the stove. Allow to cool a bit then puree the tomatoes using an immersion blender or in a food processor. Add the balsamic vinegar, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Stir to combine.
When the eggplants are ready, remove them from the oven. Cover them with the tomato sauce and sprinkle with goat cheese. Return them to the oven until everything is bubbly, about 15 minutes.
Serve and enjoy.
The eggplant and tomatoes for the recipe are from Putting Down Roots Farm, in South Royalton Vermont. The olive oil and Maresh pepper are from Little Istanbul in White River Junction, Vermont. The goat cheese is from Sunset Rock Farm in Lebanon, New Hampshire.
If you don’t have time to make the sauce, substitute 2 cups high quality store-prepared sauce.
If you make this recipe, I hope you enjoy it. Please consider taking a photo and posting it on Instagram with #gatheringflavors.