Eggplant Pancakes in Sweet Red Pepper Puree

- 4 lbs. eggplant

- 2 Tbs. olive oil

- salt

- 1 cup finely chopped onion

- 3 large cloves garlic, minced

- 3 large eggs

- pinch of dried oregano

- 1/4 cup flour

- fresh-ground pepper

- additional olive oil for frying

- sweet red pepper puree (recipe follows)

- 16 Kalamata olives, pitted

- 1/4 lb. feta cheese, crumbled

- garnish: fresh mint sprigs

1.       Pierce the eggplants in several places with a fork, brush them with a bit of olive oil, and roast them on baking sheets in a 400 degree oven for about an hour, or until they are completely soft and collapsing. Cut them open, let them cool a bit, then carefully remove and discard any pockets of dark seeds. Scoop out the pale flesh, toss it in a bowl with about a teaspoon of salt, and leave it in a colander to drain for an hour or more. Transfer the eggplant to a board, chop it coarsely, then put it in a large mixing bowl.

2.       In a small, heavy non-stick skillet, sauté the onion and garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil until soft and translucent. Whisk together the eggs and the flour. Add the onion mixture, the egg mixture, and the oregano to the eggplant, and mix thoroughly. Add more salt and some fresh-ground pepper to taste.

3.       Brush a large, heavy bottomed non-stick skillet with olive oil and heat at medium. Place heaping tablespoons of the eggplant batter evenly in the skillet, shaping them into 3-inch pancakes. Cook the pancakes until they are lightly colored on both sides, about 7-8 minutes total, and turn them very carefully.

4.        Spoon a little warm sweet red pepper puree on each plate, and place 2-3 pancakes on top of it. Scatter some sliced olives and crumbled feta over the pancakes, and garnish with mint springs.

Sweet Red Pepper Puree  Ingredients: 2 cups chopped sweet onions, 1 Tbs. olive oil, salt, 2 cups roasted and peeled sweet red peppers, 3 Tablespoons cider vinegar, 3 Tablespoons brown sugar  Directions  (1) In a heavy-bottomed non-stick skillet, cook the onions in the olive oil over low heat until they are a light golden color. Salt lightly. (2)  In a blender or food processor, combine the caramelized onions, the peppers, the vinegar, and the sugar, and process until you have a smooth puree. Add salt to taste, and correct the sweet-sour balance with a little more vinegar or sugar if needed.  Warm the sauce gently before serving.