Eggplant Caviar (version XV)

2 medium eggplants
10 garlic cloves, peeled
6 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups tomato confit (see below)
2 cups garlic confit (see below)
1/2 onion, chopped very fine and sautéed
1 cup peppers, roasted, skinned and chopped
2 eggs, hard boiled and chopped
1/8 cup olive oil
1/8 cup lemon oil

Cut each eggplant in half lengthwise. Gently score the eggplant pulp into 1/2-inch cubes, being careful not to cut through the skin. Stud the pulp with garlic and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Roast eggplant at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, or until tender. Cool, then remove and chop pulp.

In a medium bowl, combine chopped eggplant, tomato confit and garlic confit. Add onion and peppers and mix gently. Add eggs, drizzle in olive and lemon oils, and mix by hand until smooth. Finish final seasoning with salt, pepper and more chopped fresh thyme.

Makes 6 servings.

For tomato confit: Peel, seed and quarter about 1 1/2 pounds tomatoes. Spread on a baking sheet and drizzle with 1/2 cup olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast at 200 degrees until tomatoes are very soft, about 2 hours. Remove from oven and coarsely chop tomatoes.

For garlic confit: Separate and peel the cloves from 4 heads of garlic. Combine garlic and 1 cup olive oil in small saucepan. Cook slowly over low heat until soft and golden brown, 45 to 50 minutes.

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