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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Farewell to Summer...

As Halloween decorations make their apprearance at Duane Reade and into covers of lifestyle magazines, it hits me that summer is slowly fading, despite yesterday's heat. It was a nice, hot, fun and original summer for us. Once a water-phobe, my daughter learned to swim, and once a completely silent man, my son transformed into a little parrot.
Last week we got together with our friends T and J (or Y), and their kids into a "family playdate" sort of thing. The kids played with their good friends while the adults got dinner going.
It was a wonderful afternoon. One of those dreamy ones (at least for me) that look like the photos of a cookbook where everyone is cooking, talking, tasting and laughing. And enjoying!
Our hosts had bought produce at the green market, so there were some very fun-looking cucumbers, heirloom tomatoes of many colors, crispy salad greens and a couple of eggplants.
Once dinner was served, we started talking about the different possibilities of eggplants, how they are a bit intimidating and underused (sorry, but I hate conversing about politics. Food is way more interesting, delicious and genuine). I couldn't help but thinking of the amazing Ottolenghi's Plenty vegetable cookbook, that Kim Kushner had recommended to me a while back. Some gorgeous eggplants with pomegranate seeds grace its cover, and the author embraces the versatility of the fruit (yes, it's botanically a fruit) in more than 10 recipes, that I read when we got back home. They are very tempting and I'll make my way through them, but since there was no dessert, I went on my own.
The next day, while food shopping with the kids, I spotted some "grafitti" eggplants. Since Rio de Janeiro's streets are all decorated with grafitti, I thought my children would enjoy the fact that some produce was named after the word they had just learned and seen, so I threw some in the cart (of course they weren't even slightly interested in eating it).

Grafitti in Rio

Then as I decided what to do with the bicolored eggplant, I remembered reading somewhere, that produce from the same season pairs very well with each other in different dishes, even if the combinations may sound odd (for example, tomatoes with watermelon, corn and zucchini, apricots and basil, etc) so I thought: eggplant and peaches and berries...
And that's how it happened: the Eggplant Crisp was born and devoured by curious guests, uninformed children and an incredulous husband who's always paranoid I will hide beets--his nemesis--in his dessert (in all fairness, I did earn such fear). 

Grafitti eggplant, summer peaches, blueberries and lime

The sponginess of the eggplant allows it to absorb the flavors of the other ingredients and turns into delicious, fruity pillows.
Eggplants come in many colors, sizes and shapes.  They are all a great source of fiber and contain high levels of chlorogenic acid, one of the most powerful antioxidants.

  • Super ingredients: eggplant, peaches, blueberries, almonds*, cinnamon 
  • Vegan
  • Soy, dairy, wheat, and egg free

2 small eggplants, peeled and cubed
2 large or 3 medium organic peaches, cubed (not peeled)
4 ounces organic blueberries (1 small container)
1 lime, zest and juice
3 Tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) sucanat
1 Tablespoon organic corn starch

5 ounces (1 1/4 cup) whole spelt flour
3 1/2 ounces (1/2 cup) sucanat 
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
5 ounces (1 1/4 cups) sliced almonds*
4 ounces (1/2 cup) virgin coconut oil, melted (I like Spectrum brand)

Preheat oven to 400 F.
In a large bowl, mix in cubed eggplant, peaches, blueberries, lime juice and zest (it's fine to use your hands to do so!). Sprinkle corn starch and combine well.

Place in a large baking pan and set aside.

In the same bowl previously used for the fruits, mix spelt flour, sucanat, cinnamon, and salt with a wooden spoon or a spatula. Mix in almonds* and later add coconut oil.

Mix gently, but until it's all well incorporated.
Spread topping to cover the filling.
Bake for about 40 minutes, until filling bubbles..
Serve warm or at room temperature (it can be reheated just before serving).

*To all my Three Tablespoons customers/readers with nut allergies: I do not use the same equimpent nor utensils for nut and nut-free preparations. Instead of almonds, you can substitute a mixture of seeds such as: sunflower, chia and hemp.


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