Today was a perfect morning for a walk to the North Market Farmers Market. Beautiful early morning sunlight, dew on the grass and cool in the shadows. The air was clear, the sky was blue and the park is full of flowers. I love August already. The farmers market was also full of flowers and I couldn’t resist a colorful bunch of zinnias, which are just so summery and remind me of my grandmother.
Walking around the market was a feast of color with the fragrance of basil in the air. Peaches are in season now with blackberries, blueberries,cantaloupes, apricots and apples. I made a fruit salad last week with peaches, blueberries and apricots which I ate with greek yoghurt and some honey for breakfast.
There were all kinds of zucchini and eggplants and although it isn’t prime tomato season you can tell that it isn’t far off. I grilled some small eggplants last week and made Baba Ganoush. It is very similar to hummus but with a smoother texture and a delicate smokiness. The recipe is below.
The Farmers market makes you realize how generic and boring most supermarket vegetables are. I love Wayward Seed Farm’s Dragon carrots and these multi colored cauliflowers caught my eye in the market this morning.
One of the more unusual things I found at Toad Hill Organics was Purslane. Tim often has greens that you don’t see elsewhere, last week he also had Lambs quarters. This was the first time I had tried purslane. It has an interesting taste and texture. It looks a little like watercress but it is much more sturdy. It is crunchy but there is something slightly slimy about it once you chew it. It is very fresh tasting and the stems in particular have a strong citrus flavor. Apparently you can cook it, and use it as a thickener in soups and stews, but we just ate it in a salad. The citrusy flavor went well with crab cakes.
I also bought cherry tomatoes, corn and green beans to make one of my favorite Peter Berley salads for a pot luck tomorrow; Austrian crescent fingerling potatoes and candy stripe beets, and eggs and rainbow chard to make our Slow Food Fritatta.
Baba Ganoush (adapted from Claudia Roden)
6 small eggplants
2 cloves of crushed garlic
Juice of 1 small lemon
1 tablespoon tahini
1/2 tsp salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tsp cumin powder
garnish with finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley and some cayenne pepper
Grill the eggplants. You can either do this over a gas flame on your stove, under the grill or on the barbecue. The latter is preferable. You want to blacken the skin, but do it slowly enough that the eggplant inside will soften. Mine blackened too quickly and I ended up gently sauteeing the eggplant in olive oil to soften it further.
When the skins are charred, allow the eggplant to cool slightly (if you put them in a ziplock bag the steam will help to cook the eggplant and loosen the skin). Then scrape and wash off the skin under cold running water.
Put the eggplant and the rest of the ingredients into the food processor and whizz until smooth. Taste and add more of any of the seasonings to your preference.