Monday, September 19, 2011

Savory summer stew.

Eating seasonally means getting fresh fruits and vegetables that are easily grown within your local food landscape. That means fewer resources are needed to grow the food and, because it's local, you can get it fresher and with far fewer food miles. In the SF Bay Area, we are in the midst of nightshade season. My CSA box was chock full of them: tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers. Nightshades have a “shady” reputation because they contain substances that can be inflammatory or even toxic. If you find that you are sensitive to nightshades, then it's best to avoid them as much as possible. I find that, especially if they are well-cooked, nightshades are delicious and totally edible foods!

With all the farm fresh nightshades around, I was inspired to pull together a dish that would use eggplant, tomatoes, and peppers. Ratatouille came to mind immediately, but I am neither French nor a culinary genius. So I will say that this stew is merely inspired by ratatouille. It is also delicious and nutritious!

Prep time: 15 - 25 minutes depending on chopping efficiency
Cook time: 25 minutes

  • 4 medium tomatoes (I used 2 huge heirlooms)
  • 3-4 medium zucchini
  • 2-3 bell peppers (I used 1 green bell pepper and 2 gypsy peppers)
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 2T olive oil
  • Basil, oregano, and thyme (to taste)
  • Black pepper (to taste)
  • Garlic powder or fresh diced garlic (to taste)
1. Cut the eggplant into quarters (or a few more pieces). Remove the skin. Place pieces into a colander and rub with sea salt.

2. Chop the zucchini into bite-sized pieces. Slice the peppers into strips. Coarsely chop the tomatoes preserving the drippings.

3. Rinse the salt off of the eggplant and pat the pieces dry. Chop the eggplant into bite-sized pieces.

4. In a large (non-stick) skillet, heat the olive oil on medium-high. If you are using fresh garlic, saute it for a few minutes. Add the eggplant, stirring enough that the oil coats the eggplant. The eggplant will soak up the oil pretty quickly, but as long as you use a non-stick pan, it should cook just fine. Cover the pan and allow the eggplant to cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Add the other vegetables and spices. I used about half a teaspoon each of garlic, basil, oregano, and thyme. Mix well. Cover and cook for an additional 15 minutes on medium-low or until the eggplant is mushy and the peppers have softened.

6. Enjoy!

Acknowledgements: This recipe was informed by a great blog post by Therese and a recipe from

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