Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fairytale Parmesan

I have a love affair going with fairy tale eggplant.
Of all the late summer delights, they are by far one of my favorites.

These miniature beauties harbor all the big flavors of their larger aubergine counterparts, without any of the bitterness. In fact, they bake up tender, buttery, and delicious. As if that weren't enough, there's at least one local farmer who has decided to grow scads of these babies, and make them available to me every week at the farmer's market. So, I've been buying them up 2-3 pounds at a time.
Of course, what this means is that I have to think of all sorts of ways to use up the little suckers!

Fortunately, they're a breeze to prepare.
They don't require peeling or salting. So, one of our favorite things to do is to toss them with a bit of olive oil and put them on the grill for a while. In fact, that's exactly what we did with the first few batches of them.

But, lately, I've found myself searching for something new.

After having so much success oven frying zucchini for zucchini fries, I decided to try the same technique on eggplant. Why not, right?

I sliced the fairytales in half lengthwise, dredged them, and placed them in the oven. Most of the way through the cooking time, I placed a thin slice of parmesan on top and returned them to the oven until the parmesan was melted.
After that, I threw the crispy, cheesy eggplants over the top of a pan of pasta with marinara sauce... and placed the entire pan back in the oven, just to heat everything through.
Neither of us could complain about the results. In fact, these miniature eggplants offered up BIG flavor. The fairytales were crisp on the outside, but creamy on the inside. The cheese was melted, and slightly browned, dairy-sweet, with just the right hint of saltiness. And the pasta and sauce gave the dish that classic eggplant parmesan flavor.

Not bad for a weeknight...

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  1. OMG I can taste them from here...wow a great idea.

  2. Which farmer's market? Those babies are definitely worth a trip into town for!

    I drive past a farm with a cart full of veggies for sale every day, but all they have are the classic huge purple eggplant.

  3. Jinx - We've been frequenting the West Allis farmer's market on Saturday afternoons (1pm-6pm). The vendor with the eggplants is toward the end of a row, toward the center of the market. They're also there on Thursdays (same Bat time, I believe).

    Where are you hailing from?

  4. That just looks SO good. I made an impromptu eggplant parm last night- but your idea is better. :)

  5. I don't think I've ever seen them this small - I would just love to find them - what a great side these would make.

    Thanks for visiting our humble home :)

  6. I'm west of Waukesha, but get in to Brookfield, Tosa & NB lots. WA isn't all that far.

    Living out here you just get used to a 1/2 hour drive wherever you go!

  7. Love this approach! I'll bet you could even use them as little dippers, like fried zucchini sticks. Yum!


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