Eggplant Caviar

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1 large eggplant, halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small french baguette (about 6 ounces), sliced 1/4 inch thick
vegetable cooking spray
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1/8 inch dice
1 small onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large tomato, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/8 inch dice
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons minced chives
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Brush the cut sides of the eggplant with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil. Set the eggplant, cut sides down, on a baking sheet and roast for about 1 hour, or until tender and collapsed. Let cool.

2. Arrange the bread slices on another baking sheet and spray lightly with cooking spray. Bake for about 8 minutes, or until golden and crisp.

3. Heat 1 teaspoon of the olive oil in a nonstick skillet. Add the red pepper, onion and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened but not browned, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.

4. Using a spoon, scrape the eggplant flesh from the skin; discard the skin. Finely chop the flesh and add the eggplant to the sautéed vegetables. Stir in the tomato, lemon juice and the remaining 1 teaspoon oil. Season with salt and pepper and refrigerate until slightly chilled. Stir the chives and basil into the eggplant caviar and serve with the croutons.

The eggplant can be refrigerated for up to 1 day; store the croutons at room temperature. Let the caviar stand at room temperature for 20 minutes before serving.

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