Pick a Peck

Dinner:  September 11, 2008

We’ve reached the point in the season where I feel like I’m drowning in vegetables. There are bowls and bowls of tomatoes on the counter, bags of string and shell beans to be prepped for freezing, not to mention the crisper drawer filled nearly to bursting. In the end, I know this is a good problem to have – when I think I can’t look at another winter squash or head of deep green leafies in a few months, I’ll be glad that I stocked up on Summer veggies now and preserved them for later use.

I’ve been all about the peppers lately: tiny bird chiles and fiery serranos, thin-skinned frying peppers and multicolored bells, our kitchen has been full of them, and I’ve spent hours grilling, peeling, marinating and pickling. While I’m preserving them to extend their season, I can’t resist using some right now, like in this pepper and eggplant stew I served with seared striped bass filets.

I suppose the stew is part peperonata, part caponata, with chunks of eggplant, tomato, capers and Sherry vinegar joining my marinated grilled bell peppers, fresh hot peppers and pickled wax peppers. They were all sauteed in a base of olive oil, chopped shallot and garlic, and cooked just until the veggies were soft and juicy. I added a little chopped fresh parsley at the end, spooned it into bowls and served the fish filets on top. It was just the thing to take the chill off a cool late-Summer evening.