The last Farmers Market run was an interesting one.
Well, Farmers Market runs usually all are, but this one brought a number of produce I had not seen in a while. Among the week's finds: some beautiful white and pink eggplants with pretty green tops, anis!, crisp and sweet muji apples, and some mache, again with some blossoms. And these are the main ingredients I decided to focus on for this past Meatless Monday plate. I wanted to create a Summer meets Fall plate, with a warm dish for the cooling days, a salad featuring Fall fruits and that anis in there somewhere. The anis flavor works in fact quite well with eggplants – and the ones I got were particularly sweet - so I considered that combination for a minute, but I thought it would be better to connect the flavors indirectly.
So I settled on sautéing the eggplants in a wok, cut in cubes, in a bit of olive oil and coconut oil until cooked, with plenty of salt. I had also some scallions from that run which I threw in, medium sliced. For the stove temperature, I started at medium to give the eggplant a good browning and sweating, and then lowered, stirring frequently so that they would all cook uniformly. Meanwhile, I cooked some rice, in this case some Thai purple sticky rice, which is a fave staple. Once the eggplants were cooked, I served them over the rice, with additional fresh scallion slices and a squeeze of lime juice.
I then used 2-3 gem lettuces, from that farmers market run also, to make a salad with sliced dried apricots and about ½ Mutsu apple, cut in small pieces (this is for 3-4 small portions). I then toasted some coconut flakes to echo the coconut butter in the eggplant dish. I mixed all these ingredients, and added a little vinaigrette made with olive oil, a little maple syrup (very little), pomegranate vinegar, and a dash lemon juice for the acids, salt, and pepper.
Finally, I made some tofu ricotta by blending a whole block of extra firm tofu, about 3 tbsp olive oil, 3-4 scallions sliced, the juice of half a lemon and salt and pepper. After washing it well, I arranged a bit of mache on a plate, and some tofu ricotta on top. Then I added a good sprinkle of anis blossoms and slices on the mache and the ricotta.
Really enjoyed this plate: the purple meets green colors, the Fall fruitiness and fresh greens, the sweet eggplants, coconut and herbs all working well together. Indeed, what was special about it, was the subtle connection/echoing of flavors between the dishes. A lovely eat for the last Meatless Monday of this Summer. Now on to Fall!
By the way:
- The produce were found at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in SF, and at the Berkeley Farmers Market.
- The rice is from AlterEco. You could also use some brown rice, which I considered doing since there is some great Masa Organics brown rice at the SF and Berkeley Farmers Markets.
- For the eggplants, as I mentioned, a good dose of salt (if you do not have restrictions) will do the dish good. I used Himalyan and Smoked Sea Salt which are good options if you have them on hand.
- This plate is gluten-free and dairy-free. Because of the fruits, it will not be low in FODMAP but you can keep the amount of these ingredients low or just make a simple lettuce salad. The plate will also satisfy vegan, vegetarian, healthy and conscious eaters alike.