Sunday, October 5, 2014

Fairytale Eggplant with Farmers Cheese

Fairytale Eggplants are the cutest and most delicious little vegetables! I first came across them about a month ago and I couldn't help but think how cute they were. I hesitated to buy them because I wasn't quite sure how to cook the little purple gems. After circling the market twice, I decided to go for it.

Fairytale Eggplant with Farmers Cheese |

Eggplants are tricky. Unfortunately, there hasn't been a lot of success with the vegetable in my kitchen and the Hubby usually won't eat them because of the mushy texture and chewy skin. I agree with him. In theory, eggplants are hearty and filling and would be perfect for a vegetarian meal. They just never settle well with my stomach. So, why did I buy them?? Well first of all, they were adorable. And second of all, I love a good challenge in the kitchen!

Fairytale Eggplant with Farmers Cheese |

The farmer informed me that the skin on the smaller eggplants are much thinner and easier to chew. Selling point #1. He also informed me that they cook pretty quickly, so it makes a wonderful weeknight side dish. Selling point #2. And finally, small eggplants, like Fairytale's, don't have many seeds in them (which is what usually bothers my stomach). Selling point #3...and sold!

When thinking about cooking the eggplant, I decided to build in some layers of flavor. I knew that in order to get the Hubby to at least try to eat them, I had to add two elements; creamy (that is where the cheese comes in) and crunchy (crispy shallots and fresh parsley).

Fairytale Eggplant with Farmers Cheese |

Changing things up, I went for the cast iron skillet instead of a roasting pan and I pulled out shallots. I started with the shallots not only to infuse the oil, but also to create crispy, caramelized shallot slices for garnish and flavor.

I didn't tell the Hubby I was making eggplant at first, and honestly didn't expect he would even try it. Much to my surprise, he was feeling adventurous and ended up LOVING them! It was such a win for me. Not only did my stomach handle them with ease, but the taste was fantastic AND the Hubby approved!

Fairytale Eggplant with Farmers Cheese |

Many of my friends and followers ask me about eggplant all the time, and I am officially here to tell you not to be scared of it! I have literally avoided buying eggplant for most of my adult life because I was never able to find a good way to cook and never enjoyed it. Well, friends, today is a new day!

Fairytale Eggplant 

Yields: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

1 pound Fairytale eggplants, halved lengthwise (or other small eggplant)
1 small shallot, sliced
2 tablespoons Grapeseed oil (or olive oil)
1/4 cup Farmers cheese, crumbled (could also use Feta or Chèvre)
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, roughly chopped
salt and pepper to test

In a large cast iron skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and sauté the shallots, stirring constantly until slightly crispy and caramelized. Remove the shallots and place on a paper towel reserving the oil in the skillet.

Place the halved eggplants skin side down first in the heated oil and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Flip the eggplant and sauté on the other side for 2 more minutes until slightly browned. 

To serve, place the eggplants on a plate and add the crumbled cheese, parsley and reserved crispy shallots on top. Season with salt and pepper.

Fairytale Eggplant with Farmers Cheese |

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