1If your home garden or favorite farm stand has lots of good vegetables this recipe will make a large batch. If you only have a small amount of each item, just make a small batch. None of this is a perfect science: Just add ingredients that you like or subtract or substitute what you dislike. Think of this as a "Starting Point" just to get you out into the kitchen.
You want all the veggies chunky with their distinct personalities evident in the finished product.
Do NOT peel the eggplant or zuchinni, there's a lot of color and vitamins in the skins.
2Peel the onions and garlic, cut into large chunks...I just cut the cloves of garlic in half, lengthwise.
3Remove the seeds and stems from peppers, cut into coarse chunks. Remove the stem end of eggplant and cut the flesh into chunks.
4Cut the "belly buttons" from the tomatoes and then cut the flesh into large chunks, saving as much of the juice as possible to add to the pot.
5Heat the olive oil in a pot large enough to contain all the ingredients and with room to stir!
Cook the onions first , just until lightly golden. Add the garlic, cook until soft but NOT brown.
6Next, add the peppers and let them soften and caramelize a bit. Then add all the remaining veggies. Cook over med-low heat, covered. When everything is soft, but NOT MUSHY, add the raisins, pine nuts and vinegar. I add salt and pepper at this point only. Cover once more and let simmer on low heat until flavors have melded.
7Adjust any seasonings to your liking, I sometimes add rosemary or basil from my herb garden - or Italian parsley. Whatever suits your taste.
8I serve this as a side dish on its own. Also delicious over pasta or for a nice addition when baking chicken, fish or pork chops in the oven. I use it as a topping for toasted panini sandwiches or on grilled bread slices (like bruschetta) for a light meal or appetizer. Friends are always happy to receive a jar of this in their Christmas baskets, as well!
9Don't be intimidated by this free-form recipe...experiment and create something that is special to YOU and YOUR KITCHEN! "Use your wings and don't be surprised if you soar!"DRT