Farmer's Garden Stew

1 medium onion
2 to 3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 medium tomatoes
1 medium eggplant
1 bell pepper, any color
2 small zucchini (about 6 inches long), or substitute yellow squash
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon black pepper

Chop onion, mince garlic and combine with salt and olive oil in a heavy, wide pan. Set pan over high heat.

Peel the tomatoes and eggplant only if you want; it isn't necessary. Trim the vegetables (remove cap from the eggplant, core tomatoes and pepper, etc.). Chop eggplant into 1-inch cubes and add to the pan, stirring. Repeat with remaining vegetables, stirring as you add each. Add thyme and black pepper and turn the heat to simmer. Simmer 30 minutes or more, or until vegetables are tender.

Serve mixture over rice or noodles, garnished with imported black olives, as a side vegetable, or in a casserole topped with an intensely flavored cheese such as sharp Cheddar and baked until the topping is melted.

Makes 4 servings as a main dish, 6 to 8 servings as a side dish or as part of a vegetable plate.

If you have a spare ear of corn, cut the kernels from it and put them in the stew just before serving.

The smallest zucchini are the best; they are less seedy and watery, but full of zucchini flavor. If yours are bigger than 6 inches, you can still use them in this recipe.

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