Pasta with eggplant, herbs and cheese in a robust sauce will become a favorite on the menu. Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

On my trip to the farmers market this week, I came away with, among other things, some gorgeous tomatoes (mine aren’t ripe yet) and a glossy eggplant. I had determined that I was craving a rare-for-me pasta meal and I could hardly wait to get home, pick some herbs and get cooking.

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundy’s Harbor. You can reach her at [email protected] Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

If the breading and frying of the eggplant cubes seems fussy to you, I’m here to say that it’s well worth the trouble. I want to add an extra tip: When you bring together the ingredients for this delicious spaghetti, you may want to add an extra eggplant to the list. Here’s why — I have found it to be quite challenging to fry up the crispy tidbits without sneaking a couple or a few or six. If you can actually get through this step without sampling, you’re a better person than I.

Another challenge for me is having a decent garden here at the cove with the tall pines, foggy mornings and notorious wind. This summer, however, I’ve resorted to window boxes on the deck and finally had some luck growing lettuces of all sorts, including a stellar crop of fancy “frizzy” that makes for great salad material, especially when I involve bacon and toasted nuts.

For dessert, luscious summery clafoutis can be made with any ripe stone fruit or berries. Cherries can be incorporated for the traditional version or experiment with peaches, nectarines, plums or a combination of your favorites.

Remember, it’s your kitchen and you’re the boss. I’m just here to spark your imagination. Now go forth into the day and cook up something wonderful!

The Cove’s Summer Spaghetti

3/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds fresh ripe tomatoes, peeled and crushed or 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, julienned
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
1 large eggplant, peeled and cut into bite-size cubes
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 cups fine bread crumbs
13 ounces thick spaghetti
1/2 cup mild feta, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup shaved Parmesan

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large, heavy skillet and cook onion over medium heat for 5 minutes or until soft. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sauce is thickened. Turn heat to very low and stir in herbs. Heat remaining oil in another large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Beat together eggs and milk in a bowl. Dip the eggplant cubes into egg mixture then into bread crumbs. In two to three batches, without crowding, sauté eggplant until golden, adding more oil if needed. Transfer to a paper-towel lined platter and add salt.

Cook spaghetti in a large pan of rapidly boiling salted water until al dente. Drain well and add to tomato sauce. Toss in cheeses and drizzle with a bit more olive oil. Yield: 4-6 servings

Frizzy Salad

1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces bacon, diced
6 small baguette slices
4 whole garlic cloves
1 head frisée, washed, dried and separated
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add bacon, bread slices and garlic cloves. Sauté until bacon and bread are crisp.
Discard garlic. Place frisée, bread, bacon and walnuts in a large salad bowl and toss with vinaigrette. Yield: 4-6 servings


1 shallot, chopped fine
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup tarragon vinegar
2/3 cup olive oil

In a bowl, whisk together, shallot, mustard and vinegar. Slowly add oil, whisking until thickened.

Peach Clafoutis

1 1/2 pounds peaches, peeled and sliced
5 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
2 cups milk
3 tablespoon butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla
Confectioners’ sugar for garnish

With the rack in the middle of the oven, preheat to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish generously with butter, then place peach slices in a single layer. Combine eggs, sugar, cardamom and salt in a large bowl, whisking until smooth and the sugar is dissolved. Add flour and whisk until just smooth. Add milk, melted butter and vanilla and whisk until just combined. Slowly pour over the fruit in the baking dish.

Bake until set, puffed and lightly golden around the edges, about 50 minutes. Place the baking dish on a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes (it will deflate.) Dust with confectioner’s sugar, cut into squares and serve warm. Yield: 8-10 servings

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