I’ve always thought eggplant was exotic and cool; not quite vegetable, not exactly fruit. It can blend into the background of dishes or stand out as the star. Â It grows a deep purple color of royalty and class. Â It’s just all-around cool to see eggplant growing in the garden.
Honestly, I feel the same way about most things grown in Minnesota. Â It’s impressive to me what we are able to produce in our region. Â We may not have king crab or pineapples, but we have wheat. Â Imagine what it’s like to be a Florida Locavore where wheat is not on the menu. No fresh warm bread. Â No taco shells. No pasta. Be glad there’s wheat people.
Why Buy Local #2 : Â Eating local food connects me to the place I live.Â
Whether it’s growing an eggplant or visiting a free-range turkey farm, one of my favorite things about eating locally is what it teaches me about my home. Â Since beginning a locavore diet last year, I have a better understanding of what grows in the region and who is growing it. Â I am connected to the residents who grow in our community garden. Â I am connected to the vendors who bring my produce to the farmers’ market each weekend. Â I am connected to the regional resources pushing the local food movement forward. Â Eating locally was how Minnesota came to feel like my community and my home.
Not only does eating locally connect me to the people, it also connects me to the Earth. Let’s face it, pumpkins do not grow in April any more than watermelon grows in November. Â When I eat locally, I eat with the seasons and with the timing of the Earth. Â It takes my patience in the spring when I’m itching to get in the garden, and it humbles me each fall when the first frosts ends the season. Â Each of us needs a way to feel connected to our planet–if not we’re in serious trouble. Â Local food is my way to connect.
For the Ratatouille
1 medium eggplant, chopped in 1/2″ chunks
1 medium zucchini, chopped in 1/2″ chunks
1 green pepper, finely chopped
1 large onion, roughly chopped
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 C. sunflower oil
freshly ground black pepper
For the Bruschetta
1 loaf of crusty artisan bread, cut into 1/2″ slices
sliced mozzarella cheese
parmesan cheese for topping
1. Combine all ratatouille ingredients in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook 10-15 minutes until vegetables are tender.
2. Meanwhile, place one slice of mozzarella cheese on each slice of bread and place in one layer on a baking sheet. When vegetables are cooked, spoon 1-2 tablespoons of ratatouille mixture on each slice of bread.
3. Place under a broiler for 3-4 minutes or until cheese is melted and bread is toasted. Sprinkle each with parmesan cheese.