I was not the biggest fan of eggplant until I met my French husband that grew up in the south of France. Ratatouille anyone??
These beauties grow very well here in my sunny San Diego garden. Yesterday was my first harvest. Harvest plants after they develop color, but before they lose their shine. Seeds on over-ripe fruit turn brown. Check for maturity by pushing on one side of the fruit with the ball of the thumb. If the fruit does not spring back when released, it is mature. Cut the stem with pruning shears and leave some stem on the fruit.
My friend gave me this recipe which I will make this afternoon (after a long walk on the beach)
1 medium eggplant, peeled
2 red bell peppers, seeded
1 red onion, peeled
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Cut the eggplant, bell pepper, and onion into 1-inch cubes. Toss them in a large bowl with the garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread them on a baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes, until the vegetables are lightly browned and soft, tossing once during cooking. Cool slightly.
Place the vegetables in a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add the tomato paste, and pulse 3 or 4 times to blend.
Taste for salt and pepper.
Serve with toasted pita triangles or crackers.