Chagrin Falls Farmer's Market and some Eggplant Recipes

Two weekends ago my husband and I went to Chagrin Falls, a very charm village 20 minutes from my home. This village grew around a pretty waterfall on the Chagrin River.

Besides this natural beauty, Chagrin Falls has an amazing Popcorn Shop, which sells candies and ice cream, and also a little wood gazebo on the main street. It does remind me the towns of my state in Brazil. Every small town there has a church and a gazebo in the main square.  The vintage shops are also a good option to visit too. I loved some of their vintage teacups and silver spoons.

I really enjoyed spending the morning there. But the main reason that took me to this lovely village was the farmer’s market. I’ve been thinking about to take outdoors pictures of a cozy place for a while, and that market was perfect! There were so many cute things to photograph, like flowers, apple and onion baskets, fresh corn stand and eggplants in blue baskets. I don’t know why, but there is something on these blue baskets that attract me. 

So guess what I got?  Eggplants in the blue baskets… I bought three kings of eggplants: mini, white and a purple long slender. I used the white eggplant to prepare lasagna. I combined pasta with layers of eggplant, Bolognese sauce, ricotta cheese and pecorino cheese. With the mini eggplants and the slender I made a preserve with olive oil, vinegar, garlic, olives, bay leaves and oregano. It is perfect with salads and bread.

Eggplant Lasagna
(adapted from the book Willians-Sonoma Cooking at Home)

Bolognese Sauce
(makes enough sauce for 1 lb (500g) pasta, 4-6 servings)

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 oz (60g) pancetta, diced
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 large or 2 small celery stalks, diced
3/4 lb (375 gr) ground minced beef
1/2 cup (4 fl oz/125ml) dry white wine
1 1/2 cups (12 fl oz/360 ml) milk
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 can (15 oz/470 g) plum Roma tomatoes, finely chopped, with juice

In a large frying pan over medium heat, warm the oil, butter, and pancetta, stirring occasionally, until the pancetta renders some of its fat, about 3 minutes. Add the onion, carrot, and some celery and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the beef, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook, breaking up the meat    with the back of the wooden spoon, just until the meat is no longer pink, 3-5 minutes; do not allow to brown or harden.

Add the wine to the pan, raise the heat to medium, and simmer until the wine evaporates, 2-3 minutes. Add 3/4 cup (6 fl oz/180 ml) of the milk and the nutmeg and simmer until the milk is absorbed.

Add the tomatoes and season with salt. Bring to a simmer, cover partially , and adjust the heat to very low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thick, mellow, and tasty, about 4 hours, adding a little water if needed to keep the sauce from sticking. During the final 45 minutes, stir in the remaining 3/4 cup milk in 3 additions, allowing the sauce to absorb the milk before adding more. Taste and adjust the seasoning before serving.

2 eggplants
1/2 lb (250g) lasagna pasta
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 cups pecorino cheese

Combine the pasta with layers of eggplant (sliced, oiled, and baked at 400F/200C until golden), Bolognese Sauce, ricotta cheese,  and pecorino cheese. Baked at 375F/190C for 45-55 minutes.

Eggplant in Olive Oil

Mini Eggplants
1 green bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons oregano
2 bay leaves

In large bowl, slice the eggplants. Place in colander, sprinkle with salt and layer between paper towels. After 2 hours wash and dry the eggplants. Slice the bell peppers. Oiled the eggplants and bell peppers. Let the peppers on top of eggplant. Drizzle with a little oil to avoid sticking to the bottom, cover with foil and and bake at 400F/200C until golden. After 40 minutes, remove the foil and let it wilt a bit to dry the water that forms. After 20 minutes, turn off the oven and set aside the eggplant. In a small saucepan, pour olive oil, oregano, bay leaf and vinegar. Let it boil for few minutes until the vinegar smell decrease (about 3 minutes). Mix crushed garlic with sat to the eggplant already cold.