We have been very fortunate with a very mild Fall this year. I think we have had two overnight freezes, but they were both very late. This means that we still have some greens and fennel in the garden, but we have pulled up everything else. And, just before the freeze, we had that amazing opportunity to get bushels of ripe red peppers for next to nothing when you usually have to pay $1.50 a piece. During the same time, I had co-workers, friends and my garden box sharing a bumper crop of eggplant. I love both red peppers and eggplant, but I must admit, I started to feel a bit overwhelmed trying to make use of them all.
You can simply cut up the peppers and freeze in freezer bags. They get mushy, so you can't just eat them plain once thawed but they are great in sauces and baked or sauteed recipes. But, I decided to see what I could do with the combination of these two great ingredients. The first attempt was sauteed peppers and eggplant I found in Bon Appetit. I admit that I actually made this recipe twice because I thought the eggplant retained too much water the first time, so I tried it again first salting the eggplant to remove that moisture. Here is the recipe:
Spiced Peppers and Eggplant
1/4 c. olive oil
4 cloves garlic
3/4 tsp. coriander seeds, crushed
3/4 cumin seeds, crushed
pinch of saffron
4 red or yellow bell peppers cut into 2" strips
2 baby eggplants, quartered and cut in 1x2" pieces
2 T. red wine vinegar
1 c. torn basil leaves
Salt eggplant pieces and let sit until water seeps from them. Squeeze out the water with a paper towel and remove as much salt as possible. Heat the oil in a skillet on med-high and add spices and garlic. Saute 4 minutes. Add peppers and eggplant. Season with pepper. (You also need to add salt if you didn't salt the eggplant before.) Cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and add vinegar. Add basil just before serving.
My favorite combination, however, was this old canning recipe I found in a canning cookbook. First, these cans look absolutely beautiful on your shelf or as a gift. Second, they are a ready made meal. You just open the jar, and serve on warm bread with goat cheese!!!
Pepper, Basil and Eggplant in Oil
5 small eggplant, sliced 1/2 inch thick
4 large red peppers
4 large yellow peppers
1 c. olive oil
3/4 c. cider vinegar
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
10+ large basil leaves
Broil the eggplant slices on a sprayed cookie sheet about 4 inches from broiler, turning to cook both sides about 15-20 minutes total. At the same time, broil peppers 4 inches from broiler, turning until the skins are bubbly and dark all around, about 30 minutes. Place peepers in brown bag until cooled when skins should peel off. Quarter and remove seeds.
Heat the oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Simmer 4-5 minutes. Alternate eggplant, peppers and basil in wide mouthed pint jars. Pour oil mixture over each, cap and seal in boiling water 10-14 minutes.
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