The battle between young kids and vegetables is familiar to many parents. My three year old son frequently turns up his nose at the broccoli on his plate. But this Spring we planted a vegetable garden for the first time. Now, I’m thrilled to see him pluck a snap pea from the vine and eat it with delight. He has such pride over the garden, as he patiently waits for ‘his’ blueberries and strawberries to ripen. Gathering greens for a salad or snapping green beans for dinner has become a fun activity for us to do together, and gets him excited to eat healthy foods.
The Montavilla Farmers Market has also expanded his appetite for fruits and vegetables. Whether it’s a bunch of carrots from Groundwork Organics, or some delectable peaches from Baird Family Orchards, he feels a connection to the food he selects at the market. He’s learning about where his food comes from, and his own experience growing veggies at home gives him a better understanding of what it takes to be a farmer.
On top of that, the market is just plain fun. Kids run around with their friends from the neighborhood, groove to great tunes, and sample fresh treats. I love counting the number of kids dressed as their favorite super hero or fairy princess. Next time you’re at the market with your kids, stop by the Info Booth and pick up an Edgy Veggie coloring sheet. On one side you’ll find a playful picture for your budding artist to color, and on the back, a healthy recipe from our Resident Chef Kathryn Yeomans, like this one for Eggplant Rollatini, to inspire kids to enjoy their veggies.
-Laura, guest blogger
Eggplant Rollatini with Fresh Tomato Sauce
makes about 6-8 rollatini
“Rollatini” are little filled roll-ups made with eggplant. These eggplant roll-
ups, stuffed with ricotta cheese and fresh basil, are fun to dip into the tomato
sauce. Once the eggplant has been grilled, kids can fill and roll the eggplant slices
themselves. You can make this basic recipe, or experiment with other filling
ingredients – try adding chopped cooked spinach, pine nuts, or dried currants,
other herbs or cheeses. Eat them for lunch, or as a supper vegetable dish.
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 small eggplant, about 8 ounces, peeled and cut lengthwise into ¼ inch slices
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, separated, plus more for brushing eggplants
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 large basil leaves, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp. grated Pecorino Romano cheese
(or Parmigiano Reggiano, or Asiago, or ricotta salata)
1 cup cored, peeled, and seeded vine-ripened tomatoes
Spoon the ricotta into a fine-mesh sieve or colander lined with a double thickness of cheesecloth. Set the sieve over a bowl and wrap the ricotta with plastic wrap. Set the bowl and sieve in the refrigerator overnight, or up to 24 hours. Discard the liquid that accumulates in the bowl.
Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil and season them with salt. Grill them over a bed of hot coals until they are tender and lightly browned. They should not be mushy. Line up the grilled eggplant slices on a baking sheet.
Make the filling. Combine the drained ricotta, chopped basil leaves, and grated cheese. Stir in 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil and season the mixture with salt and pepper.
Make the tomato sauce. Place the prepared tomatoes in a blender or food processor and blend or process until pureed. With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream and blend until smooth. Pass the mixture through
a sieve and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Place a dollop of filling at the widest end of the eggplant slice. Beginning at the end with the filling, roll up the filling into the eggplant slice. Repeat with remaining eggplant. Serve with tomato sauce for dipping
Montavilla Farmers Market Resident Chef
Kathryn LaSusa Yeomans