1-2 smallish eggplants- you know, just right, not too big (or you'll be eating tapenade for breakfast, lunch, and dinner)
1/2 red onion
5 cloves of garlic
Extra virgin olive oil
Balsamic vinegar- or use lemon juice if you like
Dried or fresh Italian herbs- oregano, thyme, marjoram, basil, parsley
1/2 cup ripe olives
1-2 teaspoon agave nectar
1 heaping tablespoon capers
1 tablespoon or so chopped fresh parsley, for serving
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Peel the eggplants and cut them lengthwise into four pieces each. Lay them in a roasting pan and sprinkle both sides of the eggplant with sea salt. Set them aside to let the salt do its thing (salting the eggplant draws out the moisture and bitterness; at least that's what they tell me, although I've also been told that farm fresh eggplant isn't bitter. You make the choice).
Meanwhile, roughly chop the onion and garlic. Halve the tomatoes.
When the eggplant is weeping- about 10 to 15 minutes- blot with a paper towel to remove the excess moisture. Cut up the slices a bit. Add the onion pieces, garlic and tomatoes. Drizzle it all with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Stir with a wooden spoon to coat.
Face the tomatoes cut side up. Sprinkle the whole shebang with dried herbs (no need to waste fresh herbs for this roasting process). Roast in the oven for an hour or more, as needed. The eggplant should be very tender. Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool a bit.
Spoon the eggplant mixture into a food processor bowl; add the olives and agave nectar; cover and pulse until the mixture is finely diced- or you can make it less chunky and puree it. I like mine with some texture. Scoop it out into a bowl and add the capers and chopped fresh parsley. Taste test for seasoning adjustments- more salt? Vinegar? Olive oil? Some pepper? Cover and chill until serving. I like this tapenade best at room temperature; so I took it out of the fridge about fifteen minutes before serving. Serve with chips, flatbread, or grilled slices of focaccia style bread would be awesome, too.