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Amelia Saltsman is the author of the Santa Monica Farmers Market Cookbook.  Eggplant is in season right now and Amelia is making a Roasted Eggplant Caviar.  Wrap the caviar in basil leaves for a bite-sized serving.

Roasted Eggplant Caviar in Basil Leaf

2 medium globe eggplants, about 1 pound each
2 to 3 large cloves garlic, peeled and cut in slivers
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup flat parsley leaves
2 Tablespoons capers
4 tsps red wine vinegar
24 to 30 medium-size basil leaves, washed and dried

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut 2 globe eggplants crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Make 2 parallel slits about 1-inch long in the center of each slice. Drizzle 1 tablespoon oil in bottom of large baking sheet with sides. Place eggplant slices snugly in pan(s) (a little overlapping is okay). Insert 1garlic sliver into each slit. Drizzle remaining oil overall and season with salt and pepper.  Roast until soft and bottom sides are browned, about 30 minutes. Use a spatula to turn slices and roast until quite tender, about 10 minutes more.

Pile eggplant in a deep bowl to steam. Stir vinegar into empty pan, scraping up any brown bits and add to bowl. Coarsely chop parsley and capers together on cutting mat. Add eggplant to cutting mat reserving any juices in bowl. Chop very fine, return to bowl, and stir to blend.

Allow to stand for 1 hour before serving to let flavors blend. Taste and add vinegar, pepper, or salt as desired. May be made up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature to serve.

Serve with a mound of whole basil leaves. Place about 2 teaspoons of caviar on basil leaf, wrap, and pop into your mouth.

Makes about 2 cups eggplant caviar, enough for 24 basil-wrapped bites.

Note: This is lovely with all sorts of basils—lemon, cinnamon, purple, or Italian. Also, try this with lemony sorrel leaves.

© 2009, Amelia Saltsman.  From The Santa Monica Farmer's Market Cookbook: Seasonal Foods, Simple Recipes and Stories from the Market and Farm


Alvaro Bautista grows dates organically in Mecca, CA, out in the Coachella Valley. 

The khadrawy date tasts like brown sugar.  To harvest these soft dates, they have to pick them one by one from the trees.  If you’re planning on stuffing them, freeze them for about an hour first.  Stuff them with cheese or peanut butter.  The medjool dates are better suited for wrapping in bacon.  He’ll have medjool dates beginning next week.

Honey dates are a very soft and sweet variety. They are too tender to sell in the supermarket and can be found only in farmers markets.