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Combine 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon minced garlic and 1/2 cup olive oil; set aside. Purée 1 teaspoon minced garlic and 1 cup walnuts to a paste. Add 1 teaspoon paprika, then slowly beat in 3/4 cup olive oil. Stir in 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Slice 1 1/2 pounds eggplant, brush with the flavored oil and grill until tender. Arrange on a platter and dress with the walnut mixture.
Pasta: Fusilli with spicy eggplant
Dice an eggplant, salt and drain for at least 1 hour. Rinse and pat dry. Cook 1 cup diced onion, 4 sliced garlic cloves and 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes in 1/4 cup olive oil. Add 1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes, 3 tablespoons capers and 1/2 cup white wine. Cook 1 pound fusilli and add to the skillet along with 1/2 cup pasta water and slivered basil and cook briefly. Serve with sliced or grated Ricotta salata. (See full recipe below.)
Main dish: Eggplant stuffed with lamb and pine nuts
Cut 3 eggplants in half lengthwise and remove and chop the flesh. Cook 1 chopped onion and 2 tablespoons minced garlic in 1/4 cup olive oil. Add 3/4 pound lamb stew meat, then the eggplant. Add 1 cup crushed tomatoes, 1/4 cup pine nuts and 1/2 cup chopped parsley. Spread 1 sliced onion and 2 1/3 cups crushed tomatoes in an oiled baking dish. Arrange the eggplant shells in the dish and spoon in the filling. Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Dust with grated Pecorino and bake until browned.
Salad: Quick pickled peppers
Cut a slit in each of 3/4 pound of shishito peppers. Simmer 2 1/2 cups rice vinegar with 3 lightly smashed garlic cloves, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 tablespoon sugar, 2 teaspoons dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, 1 small onion sliced thin and 2 small dried chiles. Blanch the shishito peppers briefly, pat dry and put in a container. Cover with the vinegar mixture and let stand 8 hours.
Appetizer: Roasted peppers stuffed with goat cheese
Stir together 1 cup ricotta, 2 tablespoons chopped capers, 1 tablespoon olive oil, a pinch of crushed red pepper, salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste and 1 tablespoon minced chives. Cut roasted and peeled red and yellow peppers into strips about 2 inches wide. Place a scant tablespoon of ricotta filling at one end of the pepper and roll it up end to end, pressing gently to keep everything together. Drizzle lightly with more olive oil and serve.
Pasta: Spaghetti with wilted peppers
Cut 1 onion and 4 slices of prosciutto into 1/4-inch strips and cook in 3 tablespoons olive oil. Cut 6 bell peppers into strips and add them. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the peppers are quite limp, about 45 minutes. Add 3 thinly sliced cloves of garlic and 2 tablespoons chopped parsley and continue cooking while 1 pound of spaghetti is boiling. Add the cooked spaghetti to the skillet and mix well. Finish with grated Pecorino. (See full recipe below.)
Main dish: Peperonata
Cook 1 sliced onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Add 3/4 cup chopped tomatoes, 5 chopped, roasted, peeled and seeded bell peppers and 3/4 cup red wine, and cover and cook until tender. Purée 1/2 chopped jalapeño and 2 garlic cloves, add 1 cup chopped basil leaves and 1/4 cup chopped parsley, and then 3 tablespoons olive oil to make a loose paste. Stir the sauce into the peppers and heat through.