One of my favorite Capitol Hill activities is exploring Eastern Market, and I’ve decided to share some of my best finds here. Check back each week for something delicious, unusual or downright fun, along with how I prepared it and where you can find it.
My first trip back to the market after vacation turned out very productive. I got heirloom tomatoes, broccoli, cilantro, and these fun Turkish eggplants.
These adorable little guys came from Sunnyside Farm set up on 7th St. SE, towards the north half of the market. They’re a regular staple on weekends, but they don’t come for Tuesday evenings.
I’d never seen Turkish eggplant before, so I asked about them and the stand owners recommended roasting and stuffing them as an appetizer. I used a ground beef and mushroom stuffing and threw some chopped kale in there for color.
To prepare the eggplant, I cut off the stems, cut each eggplant in half and scooped out a hole in each half.* I drizzled olive oil over a baking sheet and put them all hole side-down in the oil, then flipped them back face-up. I roasted them for about 20-30 minutes in the oven at 450 F. Your oven temps may vary, so make sure to check on them and take them out when they’re soft and browned.
Meanwhile, I prepared the stuffing. We had some cooked ground beef left over from dinner last night, so I chopped this up smaller and added some chopped mushrooms and chopped kale to the mixture. This all got sauteed in olive oil with a big clove of pressed garlic. You want to make sure to chop everything pretty small here so they can fit inside the hole you scooped from the eggplant.
When the eggplants were done, I put a spoonful of stuffing in each and sprinkled some Parmesan cheese on top. I stuck them back in the oven for just a few minutes at 300 F, until the cheese was melty.
The flesh of these eggplants is very smooth, and the skin retained its color through baking. They’d probably be great anywhere you’d use regular eggplant — curries, eggplant parmesan, even chili. I’d try the stuffing with lamb, too, and some sweet tomatoes would likely be great to offset the slight bitterness of the eggplant. For a vegetarian version, I’d recommend focusing on the mushrooms.
Fledgling tip: If you’re making any stuffing that includes mushrooms, it’s important to cook the mushrooms first because they let off a lot of water when they cook down, which will create a flash flood in your dish!
* Since I hate waste in the kitchen — especially when it’s delicious eggplant meat! — I chopped up the scooped out meat and sauteed it in olive oil with a clove of garlic as a topping for an open-faced sandwich with avocado! This tided me over until the eggplant was roasted.