This recipe is from Drifters Wife in Portland, ME, the 9th restaurant on Bon Appetit’s top 10 restaurant list.  Enjoy!

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Baby Eggplant with Pickled Peppers and Cashew Butter
Eggplants are sweet, creamy . They get simply roasted here, then served over a creamy cashew sauce that’s brightened with lime juice. Make this cashew butter once, and you’ll want to use it on roasted vegetables year-round.
Servings
Ingredients
Pickled Peppers
Cashew Butter
Eggplant
Servings
Ingredients
Pickled Peppers
Cashew Butter
Eggplant
Instructions
Pickled Peppers
  1. Bring vinegar, sweetener, and salt to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking to dissolve sugar and salt. Combine bell peppers and chiles in a medium heatproof bowl or container. Pour hot pickling liquid over and let cool. Do Ahead: Pickles can be made 1 week ahead. Cover and chill.
Cashew Butter
  1. Cook shallot, garlic, cashews and olive oil in a small saucepan, over medium-low heat, stirring often, until cashews are golden brown and shallots are deep golden brown, 8–10 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl; save oil for another use. Transfer cashew mixture to a medium bowl. Add sweetener and salt and toss to combine. Let cool. Blend cashew mixture, lime juice, fish sauce, and ½ cup water in a blender or food processor until very smooth and pourable (it should be about the thickness of tahini).
Eggplant
  1. Preheat oven to 450°. Heat a dry large cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Pour 3 Tbsp. oil into pan and swirl to coat. As soon as it begins to smoke, carefully add eggplants, cut side down, puzzling together to fit into a single layer. (Work in 2 batches if needed, adding another 3 Tbsp. oil to skillet between batches.) Cook, undisturbed, until cut sides are golden brown, 4–5 minutes.
Assembly
  1. Transfer skillet to oven (if working in 2 batches, return first batch of eggplants to skillet). Roast until eggplants are tender, about 4 minutes; season with salt. Add shallot and lime juice and toss well. Spread ½ cup cashew butter on a platter. Arrange eggplants on top. Scatter basil, cilantro, chives, and 1 Tbsp. drained pickled peppers over.
Recipe Notes

Note: When it comes to eggplants, we generally find the smaller the fruit (yes, it’s a fruit!), the better the flavor and texture. And of all the miniature varieties cropping up at the farmers’ market right now.   They’re smaller sized and some are long and skinny, white or streaked with purple and white. Unlike large globe eggplants, which can sport tough skins and mealy, seedy insides when cooked, smaller heirloom varieties are ideal for roasting or confiting whole until tender and creamy.

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