While Labor Day weekend officially called the summer to a close, the fresh abundance of the harvest continues to spill over at farm stands. It is one of the most colorful of seasons on the East End with markets displaying a variety of yellow and red tomatoes, beets and potatoes, white and purple eggplant, sweet peppers, zucchini, fennel, leek and pencil-thin green beans – it’s also been a great summer for melons and peaches and plums. It is the true harvest when everything is growing!
Eggplants have been showing up in all shapes and sizes in beautiful striated colors of purple, white and magenta and a purplish rose – almost too pretty to eat. Pepperoni e melanzane is Italian for a mélange of sweet peppers and eggplant with tomatoes and basil, easily prepared and heaven to eat hot or at room temperature. The flavorful zucchini sauté incorporates red onion and pancetta. Pancetta, the same cut as bacon, is generally found in a rolled-up form; it is salted rather than smoked, and gives the preparation its special character.
PEPPERONI E MELANZANE
Sweet peppers and eggplant
Sweet peppers, eggplant and more translate to a delicious Italian vegetable casserole for the late summer harvest.
Serves 6 to 8
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium red onions, coarsely chopped
2 to 3 sweet red peppers, cored seeded and sliced into rings
1 medium eggplant cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
2 to 3 tablespoons chiffonade of fresh basil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1. Put oil in a heavy saucepan with cover. Layer the vegetables starting with the onion, pepper rings, eggplant cubes, tomatoes and basil. Season with salt and pepper; do not stir.
2. Cover pan tightly and let cook over medium heat for 20 minutes. Stir the contents of the pan after 15 minutes cooking time. Taste to adjust seasoning if necessary and cook about 5 minutes longer. This dish is delicious served hot or at room temperature.
ZUCCHINI SAUTÉ WITH RED ONION
Pancetta, cured rather than smoked bacon, is important to Italian cooking. It is available in specialty markets in a rolled-up, salami-like, form.
Serves 4 to 6
2 zucchini or summer squash
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 small red onion cut into small dice
2 ounces pancetta, cut into small dice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 to 3 ripe tomatoes, diced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Parsley leaves for garnish
1. Scrub zucchini well and trim ends. Cut into slices about 1/4-inch thick then stack and cut into small dice. Prepare the garlic and red onion for cooking and set aside. Stack the slices of pancetta, and, with a sharp knife, cut into 1/4-inch wide strips then slice across the strips for small dice. Set aside.
2. Heat the oil in a non-stick 9 or 10-inch skillet. Put in the onion and pancetta and sauté until pancetta is crisp and onion is translucent about 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic, and sauté for a couple of minutes longer. Add the zucchini and continue to sauté for 2 to 3 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes and season with salt and several grinds of fresh pepper to taste and simmer with cover ajar about 6 to 7 minutes more until zucchini is tender. Taste to adjust seasoning if necessary. Can be prepared ahead and reheated before serving. Serve with parsley leaf garnish.
Visit Silvia’s website at www.savoringthehamptons.com to read her latest blogs and more recipes.