STORE: ripe pluots in the refrigerator for up to three days.
PREP: If stored in the refrigerator, remove your pluots before eating and let them return to room temperature. They taste much better this way. Rinse and leave whole, slice into wedges or cut into chunks.
USE: These sweet Dapple Dandy Pluots can be eaten out of hand, as a fresh topping for yogurt, dehydrated into dried pluots or made into jam. You can also experiment by substituting them for plums in recipes (after all, they are the delicious hybrid of the plum x apricot).
Containing unique antioxidants that may reduce inflammation and protect against several diseases, such as cancer and heart disease, cauliflower is also very easy to add your diet. It’s tasty, easy to prepare and can replace high-carb foods in recipes. Cauliflower can be chopped up and added to salad or soup, roasted in the oven, tossed in a stir fry, boiled and pureed as a stand-in for mashed potatoes or to make a creamy soup, baked into a pizza crust as a flourless alternative, or simply eaten raw. You don’t even have to cut it up. Try baking it whole by simply cutting off the leaves and stem so it can sit upright, baste in olive oil, salt and spices of your choice, and bake on a cookie sheet or cast iron skillet at 450° for about 45-60 minutes or until a knife can be inserted easily. Because of its mild flavor, cauliflower goes well in spicy dishes or curries as it soaks up all the other flavors
Larger globe eggplants should be peeled and salted before cooking. To peel, use a small knife or peeler and cut off the skin in stripes, leaving some of the peel still intact to help hold its shape when cooking. Then cut into slices or cubes. The most important step is to “sweat” the eggplant. This helps in getting the best flavor and consistency (helps it not be bitter). Do this by tossing in a generous amount of salt and leaving in a colander for about an hour, then squeeze dry. Rinse well under cold water and completely dry by squeezing them between a towel. To cook you can grill, bake or sauté.
Featured Recipe: Quinoa Salad with Roasted Eggplant, Caramelized Onion, and Pine Nuts
The eggplant soaks up lots of flavor from the olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and the caramelized onions add a touch of sweetness. Toss it all together with chewy quinoa and you’ve got a satisfying whole-grain salad to enjoy!
Serves 4 to 6
For the quinoa:
2 cups water
1 cup quinoa, or about 3 cups cooked
1 bay leaf
1 dried red chile pepper, optional
1 teaspoon minced hot green chile such as serrano, optional
3/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper, or more as needed
3/4 teaspoon dried mint, preferably spearmint, optional
For the salad:
1 1/2 pounds eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 8 cups)
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced (less than 1/4 inch)
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup loosely packed torn fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar
1/4 cup lightly toasted pine nuts
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 425°F.
To prepare the quinoa, add the water, quinoa, bay leaf, and dried chile to a 2-quart heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook until the grain is tender with a slight chew, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and chile, drain if needed, and transfer to a large serving bowl. Sprinkle with the minced chile, Aleppo pepper, and dried mint and toss to combine.
Meanwhile, to make the salad, place the eggplant and the onion on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, sprinkle with the salt, and combine well, using your hands. If you don’t mind the extra dish, it’s a bit easier to toss everything in a large bowl.
Roast the mixture until the eggplant pieces have softened and are browned in spots, and the onion slices have caramelized, turning them once with a spatula in between, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and immediately sprinkle the vegetables with 1/4 cup of the fresh mint and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the vinegar. Toss well with a spatula — this will soften the mint leaves and take the sting out of the vinegar.
To finish, add the warm eggplant mixture to the quinoa. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon vinegar and toss to combine. Season with salt and vinegar to taste. Top with the remaining 1/4 cup mint and the pine nuts and serve.
Recipe adapted from thekitchn.com