Here's the thing about going to the Farmer's Market: When you buy all kinds of fresh, locally grown produce from the family that grew it, you feel WAY more responsibility to do something with it and not let any of get moldy or mushy at the bottom of the vegetable drawer! That means sometimes when you don't really have the time or the inclination, the vegetables rule!
That was the situation today. I had purchased beautiful purple eggplants and gorgeous red tomatoes. They weren't going to stay beautiful much longer, so I needed to commit them to something! The other complication is that eggplant is not Ben's favorite vegetable. Once, I made it when we were first married and after he ate it he claimed he "had to go lay down." It's funny......now! So anyway, one thing I love is eggplant caponata. It is an Italian kind of condiment that is yummy on slices of toasted bread-- a type of bruschetta I guess, as a side dish to roasted meats, or as an addition on delicious sandwiches of all types! It lasts several days in the fridge, so even if not everyone in your family likes eggplant, the ones that do can enjoy it over a few days! If you think you don't like eggplant, you still might try this because it is fresh and zippy tasting-- not mushy. It's a tasty, low-cal way to enjoy your veggies!
Note about eggplant: Really fresh, firm eggplants are hardly ever bitter, but sometimes they are. Taste it before you commit yourself to the recipe. If it's bitter, don't use it and find something else to do! There are all kinds of "tips" to remove eggplant bitterness: salting, soaking, peeling, etc., but none of them have worked completely--for me anyway.
Eggplant and Fresh Tomato Caponata
1, 1-lb. eggplant, diced into about 1/2" cubes
1 large stalk of celery, diced
1 small onion, chopped
1 lb. red, ripe tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
3 Tbl. raisins (this is traditional, but optional)
1 Tbl. capers
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 Tbl. sugar
1 tsp. dried basil
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepperSaute the eggplant, celery, and onion in the olive oil over medium heat. Stir often until the vegetables are starting to soften. Add the tomatoes, basil, and raisins and simmer the mixture for about 20 minutes, until everything is soft. Stir often to prevent browning. Add a tiny bit of water if the mixture gets too dry before it's cooked, but most of the time you don't need to. Add the capers, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Stir well and taste. Adjust seasonings to your liking.
Allow the caponata to cool to room temperture and serve with toasted ciabatta or baguette slices. Refrigerate the leftovers in something like a Tupperware container.