HOT CHERRY PEPPERS

This time of year you have to keep your car doors locked because if you don’t – there will be zucchini in the back seat when you return.  Tha’t not a problem for me since I’ll take as much fresh produce as people want to send my way.  This weekend my neighbor, Mrs. Trojanowski, brought me three huge bags of  kale from her sister’s garden.  I cooked it all up and put it in freezer bags to be combined with some beans for a cold winter’s dinner.  Last week Frank Caloiero, WQED’s Emmy winning Cinematographer and editor, brought me a whole bag of veggies including, red peppers, eggplant, jalepenos and cherry peppers.  I made a big batch of caponatina with most of it and strung up the remaining cherry peppers to dry next to my kitchen window.  I was going to pickle them but drying is so much less labor intensive.  I’ll have peppers all winter to add a splash of flavor to batches of steak pizzaiola, beans or sauces. 

Here’s my basic recipe for Caponata.  I eliminated the zucchini in this version and substituted more peppers.  It was scrumptious!  Thanks Frank.

Pasta Caponata

1 medium eggplant, peeled and diced

1 medium onion, diced

1 green pepper, diced

1 celery stalk, peeled and sliced

1 medium zucchini, diced

4 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced

2 cloves of garlic

1/4 cup cracked green olives

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon capers

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon pignoli nuts

salt and pepper

 In a large bowl, toss the diced eggplant with about one-half the olive oil.  Pour into a large, non-stick skillet and sauté over medium-high heat until the eggplant starts to brown on all sides.  Add a little more oil if necessary and then the diced onion, pepper and celery.  Cook until the onion is tender.  Add the zucchini and cook for about 5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and garlic and continue cooking for another 5-10 minutes.  Pit and chop the olives and add to the skillet along with the sugar, vinegar, capers and red pepper flakes, if desired.  Add salt and pepper to taste.