The trouble with going to the farmers’ market is that everything looks so gorgeous I buy enough to feed everyone in my zip code. Then I go home and realize that I actually have to do something with all this bounty, as in, cook it, at which point I have been known to utter a mild curse.
Last weekend I visited the relatively new market at the Beverly Glen Circle. The produce and friendly purveyors were so seductive, I found myself leaving with armloads of bell peppers, eggplant, red onions and masses of heirloom tomatoes, herbs, stuffed flatbread, artichoke spread and even some truffle-scented sea salt, although I’m clueless as to its practical use. If you’d seen me schlepping all those bags to the car, you’d have mistaken me for someone who actually likes spending most of the day in the kitchen.
I decided to nip irritability in the bud by making something out of this stuff immediately. The result was this concoction that is quite fabulous, which we’ve been eating all week, as a dip for pita bread, a pasta sauce, and a side dish for grilled chicken. It’s a base of slow-cooked onion and tomato, with roasted eggplant and peppers and herbs added at the end.
If you find yourself over-buying from your local farmers, try this dish. It will take the edge off when you taste the delicious results…
Now if I can just figure out what the hell to do with the truffle salt—popcorn maybe?
Heirloom Tomato Sauce With Roasted Vegetables
1 medium eggplant
2 red or yellow bell peppers, seeded and sliced thin
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 pounds heirloom tomatoes (3 or 4)
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Pasta and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano for serving
Serves 3-4 (with one pound of pasta)
1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with foil.
2. Peel the eggplant and cut it into bite size cubes. Combine the eggplant and peppers on the baking sheet and toss them with 3 tablespoons of oil, 1 teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper. Roast the vegetables in the oven until they are lightly browned and tender, about 30 minutes. Set aside.
3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat. Add the onions and cook slowly until they are transparent and very tender, about 20 minutes. While the onions cook, cut the tomatoes into large chunks.
4. Add the garlic to the onions and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, 1 teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper and raise the heat slightly. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook, partially covered, until the liquid from the tomatoes begins to thicken, about 25 minutes. Add the roasted vegetables and cook until the sauce reduces further and the flavors are combined, 10-15 minutes.
Serve the sauce hot on top of pasta with grated cheese on the side.