Forsyth Farmers' Market Caponata (from Whitney Shephard)

Ingredients:

5 tomatoes

4 shallots

3 inch piece of fresh tumeric, peeled and diced

1 pint sweet peppers

8 small round eggplant

4 Fresno chiles

4 cloves garlic

Fresh basil... Say a handful, or 1/2 c leaves

2 T Caraway seeds

1 T Cumin

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375°F. I used the multi rack convection setting, but you don't need to get fancy.

  • Score and blanch the whole tomatoes and remove their peel. Rough chop flesh, reserving all the liquid and seeds.

  • Finely chop the shallots.

  • Stem and quarter the sweet peppers and remove any seeds.

  • Combine tomatoes, their liquid, peppers, shallots, a generous pinch of salt, cumin, and several grinds of black pepper in a pot and cover. Bring to a simmer, then remove the lid.

  • Meanwhile, cut eggplant in half then toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place cut side down on a roasting pan or cast iron skillet. Roast at 375° F until tender. The skin should be brown but not blistered. If you buy baby eggplant from Vertu farms, you don't even have to peel them. Once cool, rough chop the eggplant.

  • While your eggplant is transforming into sumptuous creamy goodness, don't forget to stir the tomatoes. Also, keep adding good things to the pot. I halved the Fresno chiles, removed the seeds, and roasted them for 15 minutes. Then I scraped the flesh and added it to the tomato mixture. I toasted the Caraway seeds and added those. Plus the chopped garlic. I think most recipes add garlic entirely too early, and that's a damn shame. Wait for it. I add garlic when I'm almost ready to turn the stove off. Then it cooks in the residual heat without a trace of bitterness.

  • Keep stirring your tomatoes etc. until the juice is mostly gone, then add the chopped eggplant, a splash of apple cider vinegar, and chopped basil. Stir again and taste. Adjust flavors.

  • At this point, I used my immersion blender for a few pulses to thicken everything, but not so much to lose the texture. Be careful when blending hot mixtures. I.e., don't get loosey goosey and burn yourself.

You can serve this with bread and cheese, over polenta, or as a side dish. You can buy lovely bread, cheese, and polenta at the market every Saturday.

Produce Sources:

Vertu farms- eggplant and chiles

Joseph fields farm- tomatoes, shallots, tumeric

Canewater farm - sweet peppers and basil (and polenta, if you please)