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I love cooking Fairy Tale eggplant. My friend, Susie Middleton introduced me to the variety which she and Roy Riley grow on Green Island Farm in West Tisbury. They are a wonderful source for some of the most interesting and delicious Martha's Vineyard produce. I’ve lost count of the blue ribbons the farm has won at the Agricultural Fair. As you can see from the photo the eggplants are quite lovely. They are mild, almost sweet and I cook them either whole or chopped as I did for the caponata recipe below. They don’t need peeling and salting before cooking so they certainly appeal to the lazy cook in me.
While I usually make ratatouille with other large varieties of eggplant, I like making caponata with these or just cook them with a little garlic, oregano and fresh tomatoes as a side dish. Of course, a sprinkle of fresh basil before serving is always welcome.
But I especially love the imagery that their size and name conjure up. They look like they are just right for leprechauns or elves or might even be found in one’s imagination as having faces and booted feet or part of a small orchestra playing cellos under giant puffball mushrooms. I will think of that when I serve my caponata on the porch, watching for luna months and white-faced owls.
This makes a lovely side dish to lamb or chicken, a tasty summer spread for crackers or bruschetta, or on a sandwich with a little feta or goat cheese. The first time I tasted caponata as a child, I was not too impressed with the salty, slightly bitter glob that had been scooped from a jar. With the magic of the Fairy Tale eggplants, however, the dish is a revelation, not to mention a new summertime favorite!
2 quarts Fairy Tale eggplant (about a pound)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup red wine vinegar, or to taste
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1/3 cup chopped pitted olives, Kalamata or cracked green
1 chopped medium tomato
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
1/2-1 teaspoons red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
Remove the green "caps" and cut the eggplants into 1/2 inch cubes or cut crossways into 1/2 inch rounds. Place olive oil in sauté pan and heat to medium hot and add the eggplant, onion, and celery. Sauté about 5 minutes and add the garlic. Stir for about two minutes more and add the remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer until the eggplant is very tender but can still hold its shape, about 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. This dish is best served a few hours after cooking when all the flavors have melded. Serve hot, cold or at room temperature. Makes about 5 cups.