I suppose I should begin with somewhat of an explanation why its been over a month since I last posted. To begin with, I spent 10 days in Italy with my dad and husband. It was fantastic – hiking, climbing, via feratta, and of course- delicious food! I never tired of the brick-oven pizzas or fresh pasta. We even stumbled across a farmer’s market in Venice – trays of mushrooms, chanterelles in abundance, and stacks of sun-dried tomatoes.
Next was a brief stop in Philadelphia for a friend’s wedding reception and then a few weekend climbing trips away – Yosemite (last of the season) and Joshua Tree (first of many for the season). And finally – a weekend HOME! The garden is transitioning to fall – lots of greens planted, most of the tomato plants gone, and just a few lingering plants. You can see the massive eggplants and also some celery plants in the front portion of the beds below.
Remember the monarch butterfly caterpillar our friends gave us? Before we left for Italy, I noticed he was no longer on the milkweed plant. Saddened, I thought he may have been plucked away by a hungry bird. But when we got back from our travels, I noticed there were 6 tiny caterpillars on the milkweed plant!! They pretty much decimated all the leaves, but we harvested the seeds so hopefully we’ll have more milkweed coming soon.
Also – remember this summer, when I was raving about the white eggplants I found at the market? Well shortly after that, I bought a few plants in the hopes that I could grow at least a few before the season was out. And I was duly rewarded with a beautiful, lavender-blushed specimen, with a few more still ripening on the plant. In addition, our other eggplant bushes are gigantic, and still exploding with deep purple and zebra-striped varieties. This may well be the crowning success of my summer (fall, now?), as I have never been able to get eggplant to really take and produce in years past.
As always, my favorite way to prepare eggplant is to grill them. It never gets old! I like having leftover grilled eggplant so I can make sandwiches or put it on pizza. If you don’t have a grill, you could also saute them. The texture won’t be the same, but with good eggplant it will still be delicious!
With this recipe, I did decide to go a step further and serve it with couscous flavored with pesto, and a fresh tomato white-bean sauce. The results – stellar. Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures of the finished product – either time that I made it. But the fact that it made its way to the table multiple times speaks pretty highly.
Grilled Eggplant with Pesto Couscous and Fresh Tomato White-bean Sauce
4-5 small eggplants
1 cup couscous (prepared with 1 c water)
1-2 tbsp pesto
1 can white beans, rinsed
4-5 tomatoes, cut into chunks (or 1 can diced tomatoes)
1 basil pesto (fully cooked) chicken sausage, sliced (you can use other flavors of chicken sausage, or omit)
Handful of chard, cut into ribbons (optional)
Slice eggplants into 1/4-1/2″ thick slices. Salt and leave out for 10-20 minutes. Blot off the water, and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill over medium heat, both sides, until done (usually ~5 minutes on each side).
Saute garlic for 30 seconds in olive oil, add the tomatoes and saute until they begin to break up a bit. Add in the sausage, and then add the beans. Season with salt, let simmer for awhile until its the consistency you like (10-20 minutes). If using chard, add in the last 5 minutes.
While the tomatoes are sauteing, add hot water to couscous and let it sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork, and toss with the pesto.
To serve, mound couscous on each plate, add a few eggplant slices, and spoon sauce mixture on top. Serve with goat cheese or parmesan cheese if desired.