One of the highlights of moving to New York has definitely been the fantastic farmers markets -- along with the plethora of other great culinary indulgences. Coming from Miami where the markets were just a novelty not a way of life, the variety of produce was not entirely inspiring.
But, working close to Union Square I got to enjoy the market three days a week, being reassured that the seasons were in fact changing as promised by the spread that was becoming available from the different farms. Having moved to the city at the tail end of winter, I started out knowing the Union Square farmers market as a handful of stands, each selling loads of apples -- with the option for hot cider of which i partook in often -- a large variety of root vegetables, and lots and lots of baked goods. All great winter fare.
And as winter moved into spring (though the temperature did not always align with that fact) I began to see colors at the stands. Lots of greens and reds and purples. Just a little at first -- the bushy topped spring radishes and bunches of thin delicate asparagus -- and then before i knew it, spring was in full swing with peas and berries available at every stand, and what a great many stands there were at this point.
And now, as we approach the middle of august and summer is definitely here, and sadly almost gone (i spotted a stand yesterday that used to sell peaches and plums and now is overloaded with apples), I am reminded again of the inevitable changing of the seasons (again, just a novel idea for the city of Miami) by my trips to the farmers markets.
I now go to the famers market in McCarren Park, as I no longer have the option of walking through Union Square as part of my daily commute to work. And though this market is certainly smaller in scale, it is equally plentiful. Yesterday I spotted bales upon bales of sweet summer corn, juicy red tomatoes, and -- one of my favorites -- eggplants. As a fruit and vegetable enthusiast, eggplant is definitely on the top of my list -- aside from avocado of which there is no competition.
And the eggplant varieties at the farmers market has been astounding. I have seen huge ones, green ones, little baby ones, round ones, and oblong ones. From dark purple to almost white. The options for eggplant are endless at the moment. And though I am always anxious to try new things, and the other eggplant varieties do appeal to me, I cannot seem to stop myself from buying the fairy tale eggplant every time I go. The fairy tale eggplant not only has the best name of any fruit or vegetable out there, it is also -- for lack of a better description -- just the cutest. And to top it off, it is also one of the sweetest of the eggplant varieties.
And all you need to do to enjoy these sweet little purple fruit, is slice them in half, salt them, oil them, and roast until golden and soft. They can be eaten as a snack (they're small size makes them perfect finger food), or thrown into a pasta or greek sandwich. They are delectable no matter how you serve them. And if you can't find them at your local farmers market, I highly recommend growing some. They are worth the extra effort.
Roasted Fairy Tales
however many fairy tale eggplant you can get your hands on, cut in half lengthwise
enough olive oil to lightly coat each half
salt for seasoning
Preheat the over to 400 degrees. Or if it is to hot in your home as it is in mine, light up the grill. Roast the prepared eggplant (drizzled with oil and salt) for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool and then serve as you wish. I like to eat mine like fries, while dipping in a light tahini sauce.
To make the tahini sauce just combine equal parts tahini and water, and enough lemon juice to taste. For example, 1/4 cup of tahini, 1/4 cup of water, and the juice of 1 lemon.