Alright. So you’ve had a “short” garden. The peppers came in, all three kinds. A handful of eggplant made it through a weird season: drought, then flood, drought, then little sun. The freezer is full and you are at your last you-know-what-hair if you have to stuff jalapenos one more ‘gain, as my eldest son says. You know the moment, if you’ve attempted your garden hand, where a kaliedescope of vegetation–brisk at best–has slid right up against the rot moment in a bowl on your counter. Well. You gonna? Just let it rot and slide it into the trash?
Now. We have talked about saddlin’ up before. That’s right. Take a deep breath, curse the air, and get that food processor out. Here we go:
Two or three handfuls of cubed eggplant (enough to cover one cookie sheet), two jalapenos (or four, if seeded), a chopped purple onion, one handful banana peppers and one red bell pepper, chopped. Four to whatever-number-you-are-comfy-with garlic cloves. Now. Spread the whole shabang across cookie sheets. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and hand toss the whole mess. Say something kind to it. (After all, sometimes the runt makes the best pet, yes?) Into a 400 degree oven until flash roasted, nice and caramelized (brown food=good). Set out to cool on stove top.
Pour a glass of wine or pop a good beer. Even the smallest crop deserves celebration; make it a good death. That damn pepper struggled to be here, in your oven and on your plate. Blessed Be.
Hokay: scrape all of these delectable roasted bits into food processor. Add AT LEAST a quarter cup of oil (remembering our rule here of taste, add, taste, add) a bit more salt and pepper and at least a tablespoon of good tomato paste. I’m a bit heavy handed here–feel your way. Spin. I have toyed with adding a splash of basalmic (white or dark), but I’m a rebel in the kitchen. Follow your heart.
Spoon onto crusty bread, or spread across a pizza crust instead of sauce. Give thanks. See? Nothing, nothing should be wasted. Especially when you’ve sweated and bled over one belligerent plant. Make it your bitch.
*Cooks note: I have found this to be the most full-tilt-boogie version of the spread–however–almost anything that is not heavy water content will serve. I was given a white scallop squash last year that took the place of eggplant. Just about fell off my rocking chair when it spun up against roasted garlic. Play with your food, like yor’ Momma taught ya.