EGGPLANT AND PEPPER ANTIPASTO APPETIZER
Sweet onion and green peppers sauteed with fresh eggplant, then simmered with garlic, basil, thyme and diced tomatoes with a dash of red wine vinegar, and a shadow of sweet and heat. Served with hot pita bread triangles brushed with extra virgin olive oil. An impressive hot appetizer!
Makes 9 cups antipasto
3 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 c. peeled, cut yellow onion, 34-1 inch squares
2 c. cored, cut green peppers, ¾-1 inch squares
1 lg. ripe eggplant; cut ends off; now cut eggplant from end to end into ½ inch slabs/planks, stack a few at a time, and cut crosswise into ½ inch wide sticks, then cut the sticks crosswise into ½ inch cubes
1 t. sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
28 oz. can diced tomatoes including liquid
2 T. sugar
1 T. red wine vinegar
2 t. dried basil, crushed
½-1 t. dried thyme, crushed, depending on potency of your thyme
2 t. garlic powder
a light sprinkling of dried, crushed mint
1/8 t. red cayenne pepper
2-3 T. extra virgin olive oil
1-2 pkgs. small pita bread
In extra lg. skillet, over medium heat, melt oil. Add onion and green pepper and sauté till partially wilted and brown-tinged.
Add eggplant cubes, salt and black pepper. Saute over medium-high heat till eggplant softens, stirring often. Make sure the middle of the eggplant cubes are tender, but not total mush.
Add tomatoes, sugar, vinegar, sugar, basil, thyme, garlic, mint and red cayenne pepper. Stir well, then evenly distribute all ingredients. Cover and cook on medium-low heat for 15 minutes.
Stir again, pat down ingredients evenly with spoon. Drizzle with 2-3 tablespoons olive oil. Cover and cook 15 minutes longer or till tomato meats soften and all eggplant is very soft, with some of it being mushy.
Prepare pita bread: Heat pita bread rounds on both sides, in dry skillet, till hot and lightly browned in spots. Remove, brush with extra virgin olive oil, then cut into triangles/wedges.
Spoon ½-1 cup, depending on the size appetizer you want to present, in individual custard cups or flat, oval mini casserole type appetizers dishes.
Place cups in center of serving plates and surround with pita wedges. Serve each with a spoon.
Notes: This is like one of those appetizers that you get at restaurants these days – a meal in itself. If serving friends, serve a main dish salad after the appetizer followed by a dessert.