This rustic Italian dish embraces the height of summer and early-fall vegetables. Tomatoes and bell peppers are loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants. Fennel is rich in minerals and helps balance blood sugar. This dish is packed with flavor - savory with natural sweet undertones, succulent olives, a bit of heat and a touch of tang, serve warm, room temperature or chilled as a side dish, appetizer or top to bruschetta.
4 tablespoons olive oil
pinch dried chili pepper
2 long eggplants or 1 medium-large eggplant (about 1-1/2 lbs), cut into ½-inch cubes
1 medium sweet onion, Vidalia or Maui onion, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
1-2 red bell peppers, coarsely chopped
1 fennel bulb, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
pinch sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
14 oz. can organic diced tomatoes, including juices
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
¼ cup pitted green olives, sliced
2 teaspoons maple syrup or agave nectar (optional)
2 tablespoons roughly chopped oregano
2 bay leaves
½ cup chopped basil
Heat oil and chili flakes in a heavy pot or deep skillet.
Add eggplant, onion, red bell pepper, fennel, garlic and pinch of salt and pepper.
Saute until eggplant is tender, about 10 minutes.
Add diced tomatoes and juices, red wine vinegar, capers, olives, maple syrup or agave, oregano, bay leaves and a pinch more salt and pepper.
Mix together, cover and simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 10-20 minutes.
Season to taste with salt and pepper as desired.
Fold in chopped basil.
Transfer to a bowl and serve warm, at room temperature.
Can be made 2 days ahead.
Store leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 days.