Not long ago, when walking to a music concert with my friend Wendy, she asked, “Do you miss your garden?”
That question, out of the blue, had nothing to do with our ongoing chatter and was rather innocuous. “Yes,” I answered. “Yes I do.”
Although we quickly moved on to more important topics – her upcoming trip to Papua New Guinea, my Emma’s college visits and where to get the best haircut – that question gave me pause.
A big chunk of Michael’s and my springtime/summer revolved around gardening – planning, preparing, planting and harvesting. From the moment the rhubarb tips poked through the lingering spring snow until the frost polished off my herbs, we tended our “crops,” sharing the wealth with neighbors. Admittedly, after picking the last of our raspberries and digging up the potatoes in the fall, we were farmered-out, ready to put it to bed.
As you readers know, determined to bloom where I’m planted, I don’t often dwell on the past. I can’t bring back what was and I’ve pretty much depleted my well of sadness. What I do know is those were joyful moments despite the ruined manicures, my outrage at a deer nibbling the edible buds off my only (ever) brussels sprout stalk or Michael’s constant tracking dirt onto our white carpeting. (That white carpeting drove me bonkers.)
Treat Time as if it is precious because it is.
While I may no longer reap the fruits of our labor, many friends, who still garden, are graciously sharing their bounty. They know their food gifts to me aren’t wasted (I send photos.) In fact Wendy, who maintains a huge garden, is now in New Guinea for three weeks and has left me her key.
HAPPY NEW YEAR to those of you who are celebrating Rosh Hashanah on Sunday evening. And, thank you to Leiba and the Women’s Inner Circle at the Jewish Community Center at the Chabad of Aspen for sharing your Rosh Hashanah memories while we baked our sweet desserts.
This week’s recipes spotlight the veggies gathered from local gardens and our farmer’s market.
STUFFED EGGPLANT PARM by Kelli Foster, KITCHN
2 medium eggplants (about 2 1/2 pounds total)
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups marinara sauce, divided
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella, divided
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces), divided
1.Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400°F.
2.Cut each eggplant in half lengthwise. Leaving a 1/2-inch border, use a paring knife to cut around the insides of each half, then scoop out the flesh with a spoon, creating boats out of the shells. Coarsely chop the flesh and set aside.
3.Brush or rub the insides of the hollowed eggplant shells with 1 tablespoon of the oil and season with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper.
4.Place the shells cut-side up in a 13×9-inch baking dish. Roast until tender (there should be no resistance when pierced with the tip of a paring knife), about 20 to 30 minutes depending on the size of the eggplant. Set aside.
5.Meanwhile, combine the breadcrumbs, 1 teaspoon of the oil, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl; set aside. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the chopped eggplant flesh, garlic, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
6. Cook, stirring frequently, until the eggplant is tender, 7 to 9 minutes.
7. Stir in 1 cup of the marinara and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the 1 cup of the mozzarella, and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan and stir to combine.
7. Heat the broiler to high. Remove the baking dish from the oven. Transfer the eggplant shells to a work surface. Pour the remaining 1 cup of marinara sauce into the baking dish and spread into an even layer.
8. Return the eggplant shells to the baking dish. Spoon the filling evenly into the shells. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and reserved breadcrumb mixture.
9. Broil until the cheese is melted and bubbling and the breadcrumbs are browned, 2 to 4 minutes. To serve, top the eggplant shells with marinara sauce from the baking dish.
Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
LE GRANDE AIOLI (Garlic Mayonnaise)
IN THE SPIRIT OF FULL DISCLOSURE: This vegetable platter and dips are this week’s Cook the Book Friday’s recipe from David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen Cookbook. Unfortunately David’s recipe did not work for any of us. There was an error in the ingredients list, I believe, causing us to pour in 1 extra cup of oil. (Page 146 of the book.) The recipe below is easy and delicious. If you don’t like garlic, leave it out.
Makes about 1 cup
3 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 teaspoon (or more) coarse kosher salt
3/4 cup mayonnaise
21/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Mix mayonnaise, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.