killing time between meals

where talking about what's for dinner while you're at lunch is totally acceptable


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Dear Italy: A Photographic Love Letter to Seafood and Carbs

Just one week ago I was far, far away in a fairy-tale land. A place where eating pasta twice a day is not only accepted but expected. A land of corner cafes and breakfast pastries and gelato galore. A country that romanced me through fluffy carbs and fresh seafood, wooing me to never leave. Here’s the full story.

The Journey: Rome to Florence to Naples to Sorrento to Positano to Amalfi to Capri to Rome

The Journey: Rome to Florence to Naples to Sorrento to Positano to Amalfi to Capri to Rome. Whew.

In Florence taking in the views from a rooftop cafe

The Partner in Crime: Caroline and I in Florence taking in the views from a rooftop cafe.

My first lunch upon arriving in Rome: mixed seafood salad

My lunch upon arriving in Rome: the first of many mixed seafood salads. I gazed at some ancient fountain while I ate this. But you don’t care about seeing that, do you?

locals

Dinner that night was on my own. The hotel recommended a little trattoria around the corner called Antica Boheme. I was seated next to a table of six locals, only one of whom barely spoke English.

 But this man insisted that we communicate. He also insisted that I order the carbonara, so I did. And by the end of the night we were such good friends that they paid for my dinner. I love Italians.

It wasn’t this man, but he insisted that we communicate. He also insisted that I order the carbonara. So I did. By the end of the night we were such good friends that we were all sitting at the same table and they paid for my dinner. I love Italians.

First pasta in Italy: carbonara. The Italian version of bacon is much more like country ham, FYI.

After meeting up with Caroline in Florence, we had an epic dinner. Epic because I ate this entire pizza topped with prosciutto, arugula, and fresh mozzarella.

After meeting up with Caroline in Florence, we had an epic dinner. Epic because I ate this entire pizza topped with prosciutto, arugula, and fresh mozzarella.

And then I ate this entire tiramisù. I have no shame.

After a late night, we started the next day with coffees at Il Porcospino. One of the waiters has friends in Arkansas and even called the hogs for us. Small world.

Then he told me I would have the fried squash blossoms. So I did.

That night we had a traditional Tuscan meal at Trattoria Cibreo. AKA there was no pasta on the menu. But this sweet server steered us in the right direction. He also told us that he was once in love with a girl from Tennessee. How precious.

We started with the most amazing polenta I have ever eaten.

We started with the most incredible polenta I have ever eaten. It was creamy and oily and salty and cheesy. Just look at all that parmesan.

Then I had this pork chop that was stuffed with a  rosemary concoction. And those creamy potatoes were divine. DIVINE I tell you.

Then I had this pork chop that was stuffed with a rosemary concoction. And those creamy potatoes were divine. DIVINE I tell you. If you are ever in Florence, I highly recommend this little eatery.

The next day we were on to the Amalfi Coast. No place is more beautiful. This was taken in Positano, just a bus ride away from our hotel in Sorrento.

This day also happened to be Caroline's birthday, so we decided to celebrate with—what else—dinner. Ristorante Bagni Delfino started us off with the best bruschetta I've ever had. Seriously.

This day also happened to be Caroline’s birthday, so we decided to celebrate with—what else—dinner. Ristorante Bagni Delfino in Sorrento started us off with the best bruschetta I’ve ever had. Seriously.

My main course was a seafood risotto that was looking back at me, but I didn't mind.

My main course was a seafood risotto that was looking back at me, but I didn’t mind. I ate every bite.

We finished our meal as we watched the sunset into the sea.

We finished our meal watching the sunset into the Tyrrhenian Sea.

The next day we stopped for lunch in Positano at Buca di Bacco. As we looked out onto the water, I enjoyed this homemade tube pasta with baby shrimps, walnuts, capers, and parmesan.

After lunch and shopping, we got on the bus to Amalfi. After much Trip Advisor searching, we decided to go to Gerry's Pub for dinner. It was a long bus ride to the top, but the views and Gerry were worth it.

After lunch and shopping, we got on the bus to Amalfi. Through much Trip Advisor research, we decided to go to Gerry’s Pub for dinner. It was a long bus ride to the top (and we almost got lost since the sweet little man we asked thought we said “cherries” and tried to take us to a fruit stand), but the views and Gerry himself were worth it.

See what I mean?

See what I mean?

I had homemade seafood pasta.

I had homemade seafood pasta.

And then a seafood salad because I was still hungry.

And then a seafood salad because I was still hungry.

Gerry really liked us. He played Kenny Rogers and sang "Ruby" to me.

Gerry really liked us. He played Kenny Rogers and sang “Ruby” when we told him we were from the south. Apparently we didn’t want to leave because we missed our bus. Luckily we caught the last one and headed back to Sorrento.

The Isle of Capri! And I ain't talking about a casino.

The next day we were off to the Isle of Capri! And I ain’t talking about some silly casino.

23capri

After a boat ride around the island, we had a caprese salad and this was our view.

Dinner was back on the mainland at La Fenice which Caroline had read made amazing gluten free pizza. So we went. And it was delicious. I started with the mussels.

Dinner was back on the mainland at La Fenice which Caroline had read made amazing gluten free pizza. So we went. And it was delicious. I started with mussels with garlic and parsley …

And ended with the gnocchi. Those fluffly pasta pillows were delightful.

… and ended with the gnocchi in a mozzarella and tomato sauce. Those fluffly pasta pillows were a delightful last bite of Sorrento.

Back in Rome we found our favorite restaurant, Flavio Al Velavevodetto. These servers, Simone and Sergio, made it great.

Back in Rome we found our favorite restaurant, Flavio Al Velavevodetto. These servers, Simone and Sergio, made our dinner an authentic Italian experience.

We started with zucchine scapece (marinated zucchine) which I am totally going to try to make. It was lightly fried and heavily flavored.

We started with zucchine scapece (marinated zucchini) which I am totally going to try to make. It was lightly fried and heavily flavored. I am always amazed at the way something so simple can be so good.

Then the pièce de résistance for me—handmade ravioli stuffed with ricotta in a cherry tomato sauce. People, pasta in Italy does not get any better than this.

Then the pièce de résistance for me—handmade ravioli stuffed with ricotta in a cherry tomato sauce. People, pasta in Italy does not get any better than this.

I finished dinner with a creamy tiramisù.

I finished dinner with a creamy tiramisù.

Our last day in Rome included many sites and two unforgettable meals.

Our last day in Rome included many sites and two unforgettable meals.

After wandering around the Trastevere neighborhood, we stumbled on a quaint lunch spot. I started with yet another seafood salad.

After wandering around the Trastevere neighborhood, we stumbled on a quaint lunch spot. I started with yet another seafood salad. It was my last, but perhaps the best.

Next I polished off this plate of spagghetti cacio e pepe, which is essentially pasta with cheese, oil, and pepper. You could add something, but why would you want to?

Next I polished off this plate of spagghetti cacio e pepe, which is essentially pasta with pecorino, oil, and pepper. You could add something, but why would you want to?

A few hours later, we had seen some sights and were ready to eat again. But even with three maps on the table we couldn't figure out where to go for our last dinner in Rome.

A few hours later, we had seen some sights and were ready to eat again. But even with three maps on the table we couldn’t figure out where to go for our last dinner in Rome.

So we went back.

So we went back.

Since the menu changes daily, we had a completely different experience. But a wonderful one nonetheless. I enjoyed a hearty plate of seafood risotto.

Since the menu changes daily, we had a completely different experience. But a fantastic one nonetheless. I enjoyed a hearty plate of seafood risotto.

Followed by this chocolate torte.

Followed by this chocolate torte.

By the end of the night we had made friends with the table next to us and the entire staff. What a wonderful last supper.

By the end of the night we had made friends with the table next to us and the entire staff. What a wonderful last supper.

Ciao, Italy. Until we meet again!

Ciao, Italia. Until we meet again!


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Inspiration & One-Pot Pasta

blackberryfarm

At Blackberry Farm

Last weekend I seized the opportunity to attend the Southern Food Writing Conference in Knoxville, TN. Along with a full stomach (thanks to Blackberry Farm, Tupelo Honey Cafe, and Benton’s Bacon) and some new friends, I walked away with a head full of inspiration.

bentons

Allan Benton smokes a mean pig and is the kindest man you’ll ever meet.

I realized that I’ve gotten into a bit of a cooking rut, making the same three dishes each week and visiting my usual restaurants in between. It’s time to branch out! So here we go.

fullpot

A few weeks ago, I randomly got a Martha Stewart Living magazine in the mail and came across a recipe for one-post pasta. I was intrigued. You just cook everything in there together all at once. Could it really be so easy? I had to know.

skettiingredients

With the simplest ingredients that I already had in my kitchen, this dish magically cooked itself into a delicious pasta and sauce. The only thing left to add was salty parm.

serve

One-Pot Pasta
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living
Serves 2

6 ounces dried linguine (All I had was wheat spaghetti and it worked, but I think linguine would have been better. The spaghetti broke up quite a bit.)
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half
½ a yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 large sprigs basil, plus more for garnish
2¼ cups water
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving

  • Place all ingredients (sans Parmesan) into a large pot.
  • Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring often. Cook until almost all the liquid has evaporated.
    magic
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with lots of Parmesan cheese and basil leaf threads.


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Olé! Grilled Mexican Fish & Cilantro-Lime Slaw

To my knowledge, there are only two things that Ina Garten and I disagree on:
Jesus and cilantro.

green things

I hold neither against her. But cilantro is the key to my most recent recipe obsession. My friend Caroline passed this gem to me, and lately I’ve been whipping it up once or twice a week. It’s that good, that easy, and that healthy.

fish

Grilled Mexican Fish with Cilantro-Lime Slaw
Serves 2

First, make the slaw:

¼ cup canola oil
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
2 limes, juiced
1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon pepper
4 cups finely shredded cabbage (I use that pre-shredded bagged stuff)
1 bunch scallions, chopped
½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 jalapeño, seeds removed and finely diced

  • In the bottom of a large bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, honey, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Add the cabbage, onion, cilantro, and jalapeño. Toss thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

Next, marinate the fish:

3 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons honey
2 limes, juiced
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cumin
2 large or 4 small firm, white fish filets (such as tilapia)

  • In a shallow dish, whisk together the oil, honey, lime juice, cilantro, salt, and cumin. Add the fish, turning over to coat. Marinate about half an hour.

marinate

Finally, cook & assemble:

1 avocado, peeled and diced
1 lime, cut into wedges

  • When you’re ready to cook, heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Sear the fish on each side about 2 to 3 minutes or until cooked through, being careful not to overcook.
  • Taste the slaw for seasoning, adding more salt if needed. Fold avocado into slaw. Pile fish and slaw onto plates. Serve with lime wedges.

Side notes:

  • When preparing the slaw, go ahead and measure your ingredients for the fish marinade as well. Most of the ingredients are the same, so it will streamline the process.
  • You can easily turn this into a fish taco fiesta. Just add warm tortillas.

 


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It’s In the Books

Guess what? I made it into a real-life, hardback cookbook!

at-my-grandmothers-table

At My Grandmother’s Table is a collection of stories and recipes from Southern grandmothers, and I am honored to be a part. Check it out here. Below is one of the three recipes I submitted from my great grandmother, Mamaw Lucy.

Lemon Ice Box Pie
Makes 1 pie that serves 6 if you’re lucky

1 box vanilla wafers
¼ cup butter, melted
3 eggs, room temperature and separated
1 can sweetened condensed milk
¼ to ½ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
5 to 7 tablespoons sugar

  • Crush the vanilla wafers (about 1½ cups) and mix with butter. Press crust into pie pan.
  • Beat together egg yolks and sweetened condensed milk. Slowly beat in lemon juice. Beat until very thick. Pour into crust.
  • In a glass bowl, beat together egg whites with cream of tartar, adding sugar one tablespoon at a time. Beat on high until stiff peaks form. Layer on pie. Place under a broiler on high to brown. Watch closely so meringue does not burn. Line the edge with whole vanilla wafers to finish.


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Easy-Peasy

peacloseup

I know what you’re thinking. That blog post title could have been more creative. But I would argue that it is true and accurate. I considered calling it “Peas Be With You” or “Peas de Résistance,” but when you make this recipe you will agree that “Easy-Peasy” was the way to go.

Anyway, happy spring! It’s that wonderful time of year when one minute you are prancing around outside in a tank top and the next you’re under a quilt hiding from the chilly rain. These unpredictable meteorological conditions make for odd food cravings. Like the other night when I wanted a fresh, springy dish that was also warm and comforting. If your taste buds also feel partly cloudy, make this pea soup. It’s the perfect gastronomical bridge between springtime and whatever is actually going on with the weather.

Pea Soup
Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups chopped onion mixture (Any combination of leeks, shallots, and yellow onion will
do—whatever you have on hand. You could probably even use scallions. Go wild.)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 box chicken stock
2 bags frozen peas
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Options: Mint, basil, red pepper flakes, Parmesan cheese, more olive oil

  • In a Dutch oven, melt the oil and butter over medium heat and add the onion mixture. Cook 5 minutes, then add the garlic and cook another few minutes.
    onion
  • Once the onion mixture is tender, add the chicken stock, frozen peas, salt, and pepper. If you are using mint or basil, add that too. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer the soup for 5 minutes.
    No need to get fancy with the peas. Kroger brand will do you just fine.

    No need to get fancy with the peas. Kroger brand will do you just fine.

    peascook

  • Puree the soup with an immersion blender. Taste for salt and pepper. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and/or drizzle with olive oil to serve.


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Let Them Eat Steak

To a lot of people, steak is a fancy meal, reserved for special occasions and ordered off of heavy, leather-bound menus. I come from a beef-centric family. For example, when I went home for Christmas, my mom had a roast in the crock-pot, a brisket in the oven, and hamburger meat laid out to thaw “just in case.” This was all happening even though I had told my parents that I wanted to cook steaks for them. My dad raises cattle, so, yeah … we  tend to eat more than our fair share of red meat.

working farmpups

Here I am in action helping my dad work cattle. (Aka opening and closing gates.) And those are two of our newest farm hands, Buster Brown and Bootsie. Below is a newborn Beefmaster, Rio.

calf2

All that to say, steak is no rarity at our house. But steak on the grill could never compete with restaurant-style steak. That is, until my old friend Ina shared this recipe. Steak at home has never been the same. Or more delicious.

Cast Iron Skillet Steak
Adapted from Ina Garten
Serves 1

1 2-inch thick filet mignon
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
½ tablespoon kosher salt
½ tablespoon coarsely cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

• Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix together salt and pepper on a small plate. Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat until hot, about 5 minutes.
• While the skillet heats, pat the steak dry with a paper towel. Rub a thin layer of vegetable oil evenly over steak. Roll in the salt & pepper mixture on all sides, pressing to coat.
seasoned
• When the skillet is hot, sear the steak on all sides for 2 minutes per side, including edges, for 10 minutes. (Your smoke detector might go off intermittently. Do not panic. Just walk over to it and fan it with a dish towel like I do until the shrieking beeps stop.)
sear
• Top with butter and place the skillet in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reads 125 degrees. (That may look like more than a tablespoon, but I’m pretty sure that’s just the camera playing tricks on you. I mean, the camera adds 10 pounds, right? Don’t make that poor pat of butter feel bad.)
butter
• Remove the steak from the pan and cover with foil. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

While this steak is as easy to pull off as it seems, I have to admit there is one hazard. This bad boy is going to smoke when you sear it. Like, a lot. I regret to inform you all that I do not have a hood or any sort of ventilation system outside of opening all my doors and turning on my ceiling fans. But even if you do have a vent, like my parents do, your kitchen may fill with smoke to the point you are coughing and need to stick your head outside. Especially if your skillet is not properly seasoned. My mom and dad were sure that I had ruined everything and that our steaks were going to be burned to a crisp. But you know what? They weren’t. And it was so worth it. See:

serve2

My dad actually said these words to me: “This is just like eating at Ruth’s Chris!” If you know my father, or any southern man, you know that is pretty much the Holy Grail of compliments. It’s like saying you walked on water. Of course, I was beyond flattered. And if you make this steak for someone, you will likely receive a compliment of equal or greater value.


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Party time! Excellent!

It’s official. Parties are upon us! And the parties I go to include food that’s just a little bit naughty. OK. It’s a lot naughty. Including the two recipes I’m about to share with you which are more inappropriate than most female Halloween costumes. But if you can’t splurge at a party, when can you? Nobody every raved over that raw, low-fat, non-dairy, cardboard thing you brought. So blow it out and reap all the “Oh my gosh … who made this?!” benefits. If you are lactose intolerant, look away, baby. Look away.

wontons

Cheesy Sausage Wontons
Adapted from a long lost friend of a friend
Makes exactly 48 little baby wontons

1 lb. sausage
1½ to 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1½ to 2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese
1 cup Hidden Valley Ranch dressing
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 small can chopped black olives
1 package wonton wrappers
Vegetable oil

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Brown sausage.

  • Meanwhile, mix all other ingredients (except wontons & oil) together in a large bowl.

  • Drain the sausage of any extra grease and add to cheese mixture.
  • Brush each wonton wrapper with vegetable oil and place in a mini muffin pan. Bake for 5 minutes or until slightly brown. Watch very closely so they don’t burn.

  • Fill wontons with sausage mixture and bake until bubbly and cheese is melted, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

Side notes:

  • The good news is, you can make the mixture ahead of time and use it when you are ready to serve the wontons. The bad news is, these aren’t as good once they get cold.
  • The black olives are optional, but you don’t really taste the olive. They just add a salty zing.

Warm Spinach & Artichoke Dip
From my long lost friend Jenny Pearson

1 box frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained & chopped
1 cup sour cream
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded part skim mozzarella, divided
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 cloves of garlic, minced
½ to 1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon (or more) Louisiana hot sauce

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Squeeze all excess liquid from spinach and chop artichoke hearts.
  • In a 1-quart baking dish, mix all ingredients.

  • Top with ½ cup shredded mozzarella.
  • Bake, uncovered, until bubbly, about 30 minutes.
  • Serve with pita chips, celery, carrots, or just spoons.


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The Lentilist

Bonjour, y’all! Fall is in the air, and that means heartier fare. But a stick-to-your-ribs dinner doesn’t have to include gravy, potatoes, cheese, or red meat. (Um, am I craving shepherd’s pie? Another post for another day … ) Lentils are an extreme legume — very low in fat but very high in fiber and protein. They fill you up without filling you out. So have a second helping and feel just fine about it.

The ingredients aren’t too far off from a lentil soup I once made. But the best part about this dish (other than the tangy flavor and protein punch) is its versatility. I have served these lentils alongside simple roasted salmon, atop hearty greens (like a frisée mix, which was inspired by an item on Marché’s menu last winter), or coupled with sliced grilled sausage. With options like that, the leftovers don’t last long.

Warm French Lentils
Adapted from Ina Garten & Everyday Food
Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 cup French green lentils
2 tablespoons plus ¼ cup good olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 leeks (white and light green parts only), chopped
3 carrots, chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1½ cups chicken stock
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • In a heat-proof bowl, cover the lentils with boiling water and set aside for 15 minutes.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, leeks, carrots, and celery, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two.
  • Drain the lentils and add them to the onion mixture. Stir in the butter.
  • Add the chicken stock and bring to a slight boil. Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Most of the chicken stock will have evaporated at this point.
  • Whisk together the remaining ¼ cup of olive oil, Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper until thoroughly combined. Add to the warm lentils, stir well, and remove the pot from the heat. Allow the lentils to cool about 10 to 15 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper and serve.
  • Ina says: “The longer the lentils sit, the more salt and pepper you’ll want to add.”


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Rainbow Salad

Summer is here. And that means cookouts! The next time you find yourself needing to bring a side dish to an outdoor soirée, make this black bean and veggie salad that doubles as a dip. It is the simplest thing ever. Plus it’s healthy and delicious.

Rainbow Salad
Adapted from Ina Garten
Serves 6

¼ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon lime zest
2 limes, juiced (about a ¼ cup)
1 clove garlic, minced (I grate it on the same mircoplane I use for the lime)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 small can whole kernel corn, rinsed and drained
1 orange bell pepper, diced
½ a purple onion, diced
1 or 2 jalapeños, diced
2 avocados

  • In a medium to large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime zest, lime juice, garlic, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper.
  • Add the remaining ingredients except the avocado. Toss well.
  • Just before serving, diced the avocados and add them to the salad.
  • Serve alongside grilled burgers or fish. Or serve as a dip with blue corn chips to complete the rainbow.


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Saturday Ratatouille

If you find yourself with a Saturday to kill this summer, put on your best apron, channel your inner French grandmother, turn up your Frenchified playlist, and make a huge pot of ratatouille to share with your friends. Ratatouille is a hearty stew of summer veggies and most certainly love because it takes hours to make. Well, the way I did it took hours. Apparently there is much debate over the correct way to make a ratatouille. But Julia Child kinda did it this way, so I figure it’s the best way.

Saturday Ratatouille
Serves 6

1 head garlic, minced (Yes, an entire head. Not one clove. One head.)
3 shallots, minced
1 large onion, minced
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper
2 large red peppers, puréed in the food processor
6 large tomatoes (or about 4 pounds), puréed in the food processor
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3-4 summer squash, ½-inch dice
2-3 zucchini, ½-inch dice
1-2 eggplants (or about 1½ pounds), ½-inch dice
1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

  • Warm ½ cup of olive oil over medium-low heat in a heavy stockpot and add the garlic, shallot, and onion. Cook until softened, stirring often so they don’t brown. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, chop your vegetables and preheat the oven to 450.

  • Once the onion mixture has thickened, add the puréed red peppers and season lightly with salt and pepper. The peppers will have a lot of water, so let the mixture cook down, stirring every few minutes until the consistency is a rich jam.
  • Next, add the puréed tomatoes and tomato paste. Bring to a boil, and then turn down to medium-low while the mixture reduces. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Stir the tomatoes occasionally so they don’t burn on the bottom.

At this point in the cooking process, I got really worried. I didn’t see how this huge pot of watery stuff would ever become a thick paste.

  • Meanwhile, toss the squash, zucchini, and eggplant with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Put the squash and zucchini on one baking sheet and the eggplant on the other because the eggplant will probably take a little longer to cook. Spread in one layer, roast until brown, and turn occasionally for even color. Once the veggies are tender and golden, remove from the oven and let them cool a bit before putting them together in a big bowl.
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 400. Place the stockpot in the oven, uncovered, for about an hour.
  • When the tomato mixture has reduced down to a thick texture, return the pot to the stovetop on low heat.

See how much this reduced? You can tell from the brown stuff on the sides.

  • Stir the chopped basil into the tomato base. Carefully fold in the rest of the vegetables. Serve with your favorite pasta, crusty bread, or couscous.