Cooking In Season

Since my garden didn’t turn out like I envisioned this year, Clint and I signed up for a share in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) through Avalon Acres. They are located in Hohenwald, TN and are committed to sustainable farming practices. In addition to fresh vegetables and fruits, they supply sustainably raised meat (eggs, chicken, turkey, beef, pork) too. Delicious!

Our CSA box has kept us from shopping at local mega-centers that import food from Guatemala, South America, or China. We support local farmers who support us. We opted for a 1/2 bushel box of produce with 1 meat (2 servings) and 1/2 dozen eggs each week. Although a 1/2 bushel was described as the size of a man’s large shoe box, they must overstuff it because we get too much food to eat each week!

A few weeks ago, we got some beautiful little eggplants and also had some Italian sausage so I went to work with this recipe from Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint Cookbook:

Eggplant Capponata

  • 4 Tbsp lard, ghee, strained bacon drippings or other fat/oil with a high smoke point
  • 1 large or two small eggplants, cubed (no peeling)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pancetta (Italian bacon) or 2-3 slices regular bacon, chopped [I used Italian sausage since that is what I had on hand]
  • 1 can finely chopped tomatoes, 14 oz. (or freshly chopped ~2 cups)
  • 1 c. green olives, sliced
  • 3 Tbsp. capers
  • 1 c. thinly sliced celery
  • 1/3 c. red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling on top after cooling.

 

cubed eggplant

 

 

Heat oven or gril to 500ºF. Warm 3 Tbsp. fat until liquid. Place eggplant on a pan in a single layer. Drizzle with the now-liquid fat and sprinkle a few tsp. of course salt on top and mix well. Roast about 20-25 min, turning eggplant with a strong spatula a few times for even roasting. Remove pan and set aside for later use.

 

roasted eggplant

 

 

While the eggplant roasts, heat remaining tablespoon of fat in a large skillet. Add pancetta or bacon and bring to a sizzle over medium-low heat.

Add onion and cook for about 10 min., lowering heat if necessary to avoid browning.

 

sizzling onions & italian sausage

 

 

Add tomatoes, olives and capers, bring to a simmer, reduce heat and simmer covered, about 15 min. Add eggplant and celery and cook another 8-10 min. covered.

 

simmering eggplant caponata

 

 

Remove cover, raise heat, and add vinegar and honey. Cook a few more min. until excess moisture has evaporated. Taste and add salt and pepper if desired.

Serve hot, cold or at room temperature, drizzled with some extra virgin olive oil. Excellent with grilled Italian sausages, roast chicken and fish, or tossed into a salad.

 

finished product

 

Note: I did not use celery as I did not have any on hand. I also used balsamic vinegar because I do not have any red wine vinegar. If you do this, only use a couple of Tbsp. as it was a bit overpowering. Overall great dish!

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