Eggplant, Pepper and Goat Cheese Terrine

2 large eggplants, stems removed
olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup nicoise, kalamata or picholine olives, pitted, chopped
2 tablespoons capers, drained, rinsed
1 tablespoon parsley, chives and basil (each), chopped
3 large red or yellow bell peppers
8 ounces fresh goat cheese, beaten with
2 tablespoons buttermilk
1/2 cup pine nuts (toasted) coarsely chopped
basil oil (recipe follows)
fresh herb salad and reduced balsamic vinegar
Basil Oil
2 cups lightly packed herbs, large stems removed
1 to 2 cups olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Slice eggplant lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices and brush generously with olive oil . Season with salt and pepper and arrange in one layer on baking sheets and broil in batches about 4 inches from heat until eggplant is golden and tender. Transfer with a spatula to paper towels and allow to drain.

Combine the olives, capers and herbs in a bowl and set aside.

Char the peppers and remove the charred skin with the point of a knife. Discard the stems and seeds and cut peppers lengthwise into wide strips.

Line a small 4-cup loaf pan or terrine with plastic wrap, leaving a 3 to 4-inch overhang. Arrange the eggplant, olive mixture, peppers, goat cheese and pine nuts in several layers, beginning and ending with the eggplant. Cover the eggplant with the plastic overhang and weight the terrine with a 4 - 5 pound weight, such as another loaf pan filled with canned goods, and chill in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours.

To unmold, remove the weights and invert the terrine onto a cutting board. Remove the pan and the plastic wrap and carefully cut slices with a serrated or electric knife. Place slices on chilled plates, and garnish with a small fresh herb salad, drizzles of basil oil and reduced balsamic vinegar.

Yield: 4-6 servings

Basil Oil: Blanch the herbs in lightly salted, boiling water until they turn a bright green (about 5 seconds). Drain and plunge immediately into ice water to stop the cooking process and set the color.

Blanching inactivates the enzymes that cause herbs to turn brown develop an oxidized flavor.

Pat the herbs dry and add to a blender or food processor along with enough olive oil to cover. Blend briefly to make a thick paste.

Pour into a clean tall jar and add enough oil to cover the puree by 2 inches. Stir well or shake and store covered in the refrigerator for at least one day or up to 3 or 4 days depending on the color and flavor desired. Strain the oil carefully through a fine filter or cheesecloth. The oil should be very bright green and fragrant. Season with salt and pepper if desired and store covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

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