Keeping it fresh

Eggplant tart.

Eggplant tart: Simple. Easy. Fresh.

You walk into a small town diner at 8 a.m. each weekday morning, and there he is, sitting at the counter with his habitual cup of steaming, black coffee and the number 7 – eggs over easy, white toast, a side of plump sausage links.

Waltzing into a rooftop lounge with a view overlooking the city skyline, he’s there too, every night after work, sipping his Johnny Walker Blue on the rocks (with a twist, of course) and gazing at his 8 oz ribeye next to a bed of celery root puree.

These men, although at different ends of the social and financial spectrum, have something in common. They are regulars at their respective joints. While it’s great fun to be a “regular,” to be in a place where people know your name, what you like to eat and make sure that it’s done to your specifications, being a regular is … well, regular. Normal. Predictable even.

You always praise a child when they do something out of their comfort zone – the first time they dress themselves, when they choose to spend time studying for their math test instead of playing video games, when they ask their date to their first semi-formal dance. Doing things outside of your norm is a cause for celebration!

If we take the time to switch things up in other areas of our life, why not take the time to throw a few new recipes into our repertoire?

For this week’s Friday Night Dinner, our theme was “Make Something New!” I cracked open one of the dozen recipe books on our baker’s rack and flipped through the pages of recipes I had always said I would try, that I wanted to take a crack at, but hadn’t gotten to it yet. Sound like something you’ve done before?

I decided to make a simple, but delicate and savory eggplant tart. With my fresh eggplant from the farmer’s market, I diced, sauteed, seasoned and placed the succulent slices atop a sheet of pastry dough covered in a layer of fluffy ricotta cheese. After baking it for 15 minutes, I pulled it out of the oven, sliced it and viola! A new, never before tasted dish was born. It was that easy! I just needed to take the time to do it.

Now, I’m inspired to make at least one new dish each week. Who knows, maybe I’ll even find my new favorite dish out of one of these whimsical culinary adventures. So, what do you say – are you going to be a regular today, or try something new?

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