Yesterday I visited the Druid Hill Farmer’s market–it was my first time! I’ve always heard that it was a nice market, but I’ve rarely had occasion to visit since it’s in a different part of Baltimore than where I live. I was hoping to catch my friend who owns Manna Artisan Bread, but I realized she is on vacation, living it up somewhere on the west coast. If you do get a chance to catch her at the Druid Hill market or the Thursday Pigtown Farmer’s Market, don’t pass up the chance to buy her amazing sourdough, delicious rye chocolate chip cookies, incredible sandwich breads–or all of the above. When Jake is too busy to bake, Manna Bread is the only acceptable substitute in this house.
The Druid Hill market also has other awesome value-added vendors that buy local themselves, including (mostly) jam and jelly vendor Infused Spreads and spice and herb purveyor Max’s Degrees. Those guys make awesome products and they know how to hustle- you can find them in most of the farmer’s markets around town all week. I picked up a few beautiful veggies from Crooked Fence Farm, too (I can’t resist purple veggies, which they had in spades).
After the market, I went home to cook up a summer feast! The summer is the perfect season for many luscious Italian favorite dishes using eggplant, tomatoes, and basil. Make a pizza with homemade tomato sauce, or pesto for a pizza sauce or just a spread on a good crusty sourdough bread. Which, by the way, you can pick up from Manna Artisan Bread.
The caponata below makes a large batch, enough for several sandwiches or snacks. We also tossed it with pasta as a sauce and veggies, it was delicious. This is a great make ahead salad that will last over the course of a week and improve as it marinates in its own juices.
Summer’s Best Caponata
- 1 large globe eggplant
- 2 small zucchini
- 1 white onion
- 4-6 stalks of celery from the heart – the tender, white bits on the inside
- 1 jalapeno
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/4 cup kalamata or olive cured olives
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 2 tbsp capers
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp dried marjoram
- salt, sugar, black pepper
- olive oil
- one bunch each of parsley and mint (a large handful)
- Preheat the oven to 450°F.
- Cut the eggplant and zucchini into cubes, about 1/2-inch. Toss them on a baking sheet (you may need two) with olive oil and a sprinkle each of salt and pepper until they are lightly coated with oil. Eggplant can take a lot of oil, so use a few tablespoons. Roast until lightly golden brown–I set a timer for 15 minutes, toss the tray, roast for about 5 minutes more unless the veg look like they’re really starting to crisp up at the 15 minute mark.
- Meanwhile, dice the onion and celery. Mince the jalapeno and garlic. Roughly chop the olives.
- Add the onion to a large skillet and saute with a splash of olive oil until it is just starting to turn clear. Now, add the celery, garlic, and jalapeno. Stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste, olives, capers, raisins, vinegar, wine, smoked paprika, marjoram, and a 1/2 tsp sugar. Stir together and allow to return to a simmer.
- At this point your eggplant and zucchini will likely be done. When they are, add them to the skillet (or combine everything in a bowl if your skillet is too small) and mix together. Taste for seasoning. The caponata should be slightly sweet, a little sour, and well seasoned with salt and lightly spiced. Adjust for your preferences.
- Leave to cool while you chop the parsley and mint, removing any hard stems. Mix these in, the caponata is now ready to serve warm with bread, although it will improve after a day in the fridge and is excellent cold.