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Eggtoes

2 Aug

Do you know what these are?

Eggtoes!

No, it’s probably not what you’re thinking.

Here, let me give you a hint.

Look closely at the cap. Wouldn’t it look more at home on something darker, possibly in an aubergine color, slightly more ovoid and with fewer tiger stripes?

Yep, Now you’ve got it! They’re teeny, tiny orange eggplants! Solanum gilo to be exact.

Eggtoe!

Did anyone else catch To Market, To Market To Buy A Fat Pig on their local PBS station last night? Much like FloFab, I have been blown away by the produce this summer. Each fruit and vegetable I’ve bought in the past few months has been better than I can remember it ever having been.

I was seduced by some tiny Tristar strawberries yesterday so I bought them, washed them and left them out for my co-workers. Most eschewed them, opting instead for the farewell cake of a departing colleague, but one gentleman who had spent many, many years working the Paris beat took one and fell immediately into raptures, saying they tasted just like the fraises he remembers so fondly.

Strobbleberries

The time I’ve been spending at the market this summer has been as good for my soul as the veggies have been good for our stomachs. There’s magic to a market in the morning. Everyone’s still a little sleepy, there’s less hustlebustle, more elbow room, more time to stop and smell the roses and more time to have a nice chat.

That was one of my favorite points in To Market, To Market…, the reason people love their markets so much is the interaction they can have there that’s absent from a megamart, it’s the people element. A good conversation about food, whether with the farmer, or with the dude being picky about the condition of his fava bean pods, can leave me in a finer mood than any giant coffee in the morning.

So far this summer I’ve met a long lost friend of my mother’s, a goat cheese maker who was on the Columbia County Horse Bowl team (as was I) and a tomato farmer who shares the cheese his goat farming neighbor makes just for him.

But, enough about markets. If you’re coming here, you probably love them too.  Let’s get back to the eggtoes.

Turmeric-scented Reshteh

I found them at the Union Square greenmarket last Friday at the same stand that had the Pimientos de Padron and near the guy with the baby artichokes. Here’s the thing. I love eggplant. All of them. I’ve never met one I didn’t like. The Boy on the other hand? Not so much.

On our first trip up to the Adirondacks three years ago, we arrived very, very late and very, very hungry. Apparently there was a lasagna, but all I remember is walking into the kitchen, giving my mom a hug and a kiss and then turning in horror to the counter where she had a huge sheet pan full of eggplant slices, slick with pesto and wrapped around chunks of mozzarella cheese. I let out a groan. Oh no, I thought, the Boy is never going to eat those! And yet eat them he did. With gusto no less.

Stuffed Eggtoes

I hoped we had turned a corner, and we had, of sorts. He still doesn’t love them, but he’ll play nicely when I bring home a bag of luminous, tiger-striped orbs and promise him couscous.

I didn’t quite know what to do with my eggtoes so I turned to Claudia. There are many eggplant recipes in her book, but most of them bring out the mucilaginous quality of the fruits that I so love and the Boy so hates. They also didn’t seem all that uniquely Middle Eastern.

What did seem unique, however, were the many recipes for stuffed eggplant, using lamb and all sorts of heady, exotic spices. Problem was, I had no ground lamb and was feeling monumentally lazy, so I concocted my own stuffing of Turmeric-scented reshteh and a melange of aromatics. The eggtoes cooked slowly in a luxurious sauce of heirloom tomatoes and baby artichokes perfumed with cinnamon and cloves while the couscous steamed.

Stuffed Eggtoes

Some of the ‘chokes were a little tough and the sauce kind of burnt to the bottom of the pan, but what survived was intensely delicious when mixed with the couscous. The aubergines were a little bitter, but the stuffing was out of this world.

They may not have been the best eggplants I’ve ever eaten, but they sure were the best eggtoes!

Head below the jump for the recipe for Stuffed Eggtoes With Couscous.

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