When vegetarian cookbook powerhouse Deborah Madison (pictured, above) dropped into town recently, signing books at the Mill City Farmers Market, I picked up a copy of her "Local Flavors" for my sister Linda, a dedicated CSA and farmers market cook.
It's a good thing that I already owned a copy, otherwise Linda probably would have never seen hers. That's because this is one terrific guide to imaginative, flavorful and hyper-seasonal cooking. It was also ahead of its time. When the book came out in 2002, there were few farmers market-inspired cookbooks; now the shelves are flooded with them, but none have the Madison touch (Find a Q& A with Madison here, from the Star Tribune's archives).
A case in point? This easy-to-prepare recipe for eggplant-bell pepper-olive spaghetti.
ROBUST END-OF-THE SUMMER SPAGHETTI
Serves 4 to 6.
Note: From "Local Flavors" by Deborah Madison. "Giving the last of the summer vegetables a lengthy time on the stove turns them into a robust and deep-flavored sauce, hearty enough for the beginning of fall," writes Madison.
1 1/2 to 2 lbs. eggplant, peeled and sliced a scant 1/2-inch thick
2 red or yellow bell peppers, or one of each, halved lengthwise and seeded
1/4 c. olive oil, plus extra for the pan
1 onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
3 anchovies, chopped
1/3 c. chopped parsley, plus extra for garnish
2 lbs. ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (reserving juices)
1/4 c. Kalamata or Gaeta olives, pitted and chopped
3 tbsp. capers, rinsed
1 tbsp. dried oregano
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. spaghetti
1 c. grated pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano
Preheat broiler. Brush a sheet pan lightly with olive oil, arrange eggplant on it and brush tops with more oil. Broil on both sides until browned. Remove and cut eggplant into wide strips. Lightly oil peppers, then broil, skin-side up, until blistered. Remove from oven, stack them on top of one another and allow them to steam for 15 minutes, then peel and dice into smal squares.
Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, peppers, garlic, anchovies and parsley and saute until onion and peppers are softened, about 5 minutes. Lower heat and add eggplant, tomatoes, olives, capers, oregano and 1/2 cup water (or juice from tomatoes). Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 30 minutes.
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta, following directions on package, then drain. Transfer pasta to a large heated bowl, spoon sauce over pasta and top with cheese and parsley. Toss and serve.