Roasted Eggplant from the Princeton Farmers Market

2 08 2010

Lauren convinced me (with her post about the Red Bank Farm Market) that the best way to get out of my cooking rut this summer – or rather, my complicated inability to “want to find the time to cook” – might be to go out and pick up something new at a farmers market.  As crazy as it may sound, it actually worked!

I visited the Princeton Farmers Market which has relocated this year to 55 Witherspoon Street (right in front of Witherspoon Grill and next to the Princeton Library). Local vendors are at the market from mid June through October from 12:30 to 2:30 every Thursday.

After wandering around for a while, looking at bright and beautiful flowers and tent after tent of produce and prepared foods – getting hungrier and hungrier each minute, I came across a variety of eggplants from J&L Farms.  The way the eggplants vibrantly spilled out of the barrels toward me, I knew right away that they were just the inspiration that I needed to get back into my kitchen.

Locally grown eggplant from J&L Farms.

Eggplant may not seem that “new” or “inspiring” to most of you, but for someone who doesn’t typically like eggplant (me!), it was a food that I had never cooked before.  Besides, the pretty, round eggplant were so different looking, I just had to see what they were all about.  I purchased an eggplant, asked for instructions on the best way to cook it, and went home to try it out.

Aren't they just so pretty?

My instructions for cooking this round eggplant were as follows:  Cut off the top and bottom of the eggplant.  Lay it on its side and cut slices about 1/2 an inch thick.  Marinate and then grill.  It sounded easy enough to me!

Eggplant sliced and ready for the marinade.

For the marinade, I decided to make my own.  (Partly because I didn’t have a pre-made one in the house, and partly because I wanted to use some of the locally grown honey that I bought the same day from Tassot Apiaries, Inc.; see how well Lauren’s trick is working?)

I made the marinade by combining the following ingredients.  (Please keep in mind that all measurements are approximate – inspired or not, I tend to only use exact measurements when baking!)

  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1/4 cup lemon jucie
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 tbs of olive oil
  • 1 tbs local honey
  • few splashes of lite soy sauce (for color, mostly)
  • pinch or so of each: tarragon, dillweed, basil, and black pepper

Ready to sit in the fridge for a few hours.

I let the eggplant marinate for the afternoon (I also added a sliced onion).  Though my instructions were to grill, I didn’t put the eggplant directly on the grill.  (I was a little afraid that the marinade would make the vegetables stick.)  Instead, I lined a tray with aluminum foil and roasted them on the grill that way.  They were absolutely delicious.

Since this was such a success, the next time I’m at a farmers market, I know I’m definitely going to pick out something new to try again!

The final dish of eggplant and onion!

Has anyone else tried Lauren’s trick?  What have you experimented with from a farmers market in your area?





One response

2 08 2010

Melissa, that eggplant looks delicious! Glad you enjoyed the market, I will have to get out to Princeton one of these days and check it out!

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