The first time I grew the diminutive Fairy Tale eggplant, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. The plant made lots of beautiful little purple and white streaked eggplants, but they were so small! Their maximum size is about 1-3/4″ wide by 4″ long, but many are even smaller than that.
The eggplants were good stir fried, but it took a lot of them to make a meal. I dismissed this 2005 All American Selection as just another novelty vegetable: decorative and cute to look at, but not very useful in the kitchen. Boy was I ever wrong!
Fast forward a couple of years. My wife and I discovered the joys of grilling eggplant and peppers (we were blessed with lots of both of them). I even made a grilled eggplant parmesan, but mostly I just brushed the sliced eggplant with a little olive oil and grilled it for about 10 minutes or so. Eggplant is low in calories and high in fiber (20 calories and 3 grams of fiber per cup) and when grilled it makes for a mild-tasting side dish that complements a lot of our summertime meals.
But back to the Fairy Tale variety. Last year Master Gardeners grew it at our display gardens, and it produced a bumper crop. We were encouraged to take some home and try it. So I did, and this time I knew how to fix it: grilled!
Anxious to serve it as an appetizer with a light lunch, I searched the Web for a sauce to go with it. I found a recipe from Nigel Slater’s book “The Kitchen Diaries, A Year in the Kitchen with Nigel Slater” that sounded interesting. The recipe that follows has become a favorite here. This year I planted Fairy Tale in several large containers and it has been producing abundantly.
This recipe makes a great light appetizer or side dish whenever fresh eggplant is available. Avoid older eggplants with dull skin since they tend to be bitter tasting. This recipe is great for miniature eggplants like Fairy Tale, Hansel or Gretel – just slice them in half lengthwise. Larger oval eggplants can be sliced crosswise.
2 tbsp tahini paste*
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 dash salt
1 ea medium eggplant (12 oz, or several small eggplants)
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1. Combine tahini paste, lemon juice, yogurt, garlic and salt to taste. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
2. Slice eggplant into 1/4″ thick slices. Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with cumin and salt.
3. Grill eggplant over high heat for 8-10 minutes, until soft and done.
Nutrition (per serving): 118 calories, 68 calories from fat, 8g total fat, 1.2mg cholesterol, 64.6mg sodium, 355.3mg potassium, 10.4g carbohydrates, 4.7g fiber, 4.3g sugar, 3.6g protein, 83.9mg calcium, 1.3g saturated fat.
*Tahini paste is made from ground roasted sesame seeds. It can usually be found in groceries or health food stores in the ethnic section or along with other nut butters.