Saturday was a great day at the market. I found all kinds of goodies while I was shopping and then volunteered at the tasting booth, handing out samples of the fresh produce. It was a farmers market girl’s dream day.
When I shop, I usually spread the love among the booths, buying a few things from most. I always make sure I stop by the Urban Roots booth. If you aren’t familiar with Urban Roots, it is an amazing program working with high school kids to teach them gardening, the importance of eating fresh food and how to run a business (they do the math at the booth, make change, etc.).
The always have something fun, but last Saturday was special – it was opposite day. Now, I don’t know if the Urban Roots folks saw it that way, but I wandered into the booth and saw purple potatoes and white eggplant. Looks like opposite day to me! I, of course, had to buy both.
Tonight, I made my opposite day meal – eggplant stacks and purple potato soup.
The eggplant stacks are a nice variation of a caprese salad with grilled
eggplant, tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. The best thing about this recipe is that it looks fancy and refined and is so easy to prepare. If you want to impress the pants off of someone, this is the recipe.
The potato soup is comfort food for me. I like it to be a bit rustic and usually leave the skins on the potatoes which means you might have pieces of skin in your soup. (if you use a baking type of potato then you want to peel them; the skins won’t taste good). I’m sure I’ve horrified the purists reading this blog, but I’m a simple woman, it was a weeknight after work and didn’t feel like peeling or straining. If I was having company, I’d sweat the details.
And, no, the soup was not purple. The skins are purple after all, not the potato meat. It was still fun.
By the way, I found a “friend” in one of my tomatoes when I was getting dinner ready. This will happen when you buy farm fresh produce. I cut off the top part of the tomato, inspected the remainder for additional “friends” and used it anyway. It was an heirloom tomato after all.
1 large or 2 small eggplant
2 tbsps olive oil
2-3 tomatoes (I used a Purple Cherokee heirloom tomato and 2 Green Zebras to give the dish color and variety)
juice of 1 lemon
salt to taste
Slice the eggplant into 1/3 inch rounds. Place them in a colander and sprinkle sea salt over them. Let them sit for 30 minutes.
Rinse the salt off the eggplant rounds and pat them dry. Preheat the broiler. Place the rounds in a shallow baking dish and brush olive oil on them. Place the pan under the broil and cook on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Watch the eggplant – you don’t want burnt rounds. Let the eggplant cool.
While the eggplant is cooking, slice the tomatoes and mozzarella. Squeeze half the lemon juice and sprinkle sea salt over the tomatoes. Once the eggplant is cool, squeeze the other half of lemon juice over the rounds and sprinkle with a little salt.
Arrange the salad on the plates (you don’t want to put this on a serving dish and try to move them over – think food earthquake). I layered eggplant, mozzarella, tomato, basil, eggplant, mozzarella, tomato, basil, eggplant – topped with a sprig of basil.
Purple Potato Soup
3 tbsps butter
1 bunch of leeks, chopped
2 tbsps garlic, minced
6 cups chicken broth or stock
1 1/2 pounds potatoes, quartered (I used purple, but you can use any kind. If they are baking potatoes, then you need to peel them.)
salt and pepper
In a soup pot, melt the butter over low heat. Increase to medium heat and add the leeks. Saute until tender, then add the garlic. Add the potatoes and chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Cover and let cook for about 30 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.
Remove the soup from the heat and let it cool a bit. (You do not want the soup to be piping hot when you put a hand-held blender in it. Think splatter burns.) Using a hand blender, blend the soup until smooth. If you don’t have a hand blender, you can process it in batches in a blender or food processor, but be careful not to burn yourself as you transfer hot soup back and forth.
Season the soup with salt and pepper, then ladle it into the bowls. Add a dab of sour cream (I used a teaspoon) and garnish with chopped chives.