“Summer should get a speeding ticket!” — Unknown

Summer will soon fade into fall, and these lingering days of abundant sunshine are meant to be savored. Harvest time is in full swing and local farm markets offer an explosively colorful vista of late season fruits and vegetables. Purchasing locally grown produce is a tremendously healthful way to prepare a delicious life.

Fresh peaches fill the air with their intoxicating scent. Gather up a big basket of these fragrant fruits and treat yourself to cobbler, pie or shortcake. Or preserve them for winter by canning, freezing or making jam.

Fat, juicy tomatoes can also be saved for the darker months by slow cooking with onions, peppers and garlic, until melted down into a mouthwatering marinara sauce.

Corn on the cob is still plentiful, the kernels full of sundrenched flavor. Strip the cobs for a decadent lobster and corn chowder, or try a roasted corn salsa or crisp corn salad, sparked up with plenty of hot cherry or jalapeno pepper.

Cauliflower and broccoli have their own lumpy loveliness and are perfect for a late summer supper. Cut into florets, wash and dry well. Roll them around in a bowl with a good glunk of olive oil, then toss with breadcrumbs, minced garlic, sea salt and freshly ground pepper, until well coated. Place the florets on a baking sheet and roast in a 400 degree oven until crispy, shaking the pan often.

In the midst of the glorious rainbow of farm market color are the gleaming eggplants, their glossy purple-black skins beckoning the conscious cook to carry them home. Eggplants are quite filling, provide a good source of fiber, are low in calories and are at their most delicious in late summer.

Eggplant can be the cornerstone of many satisfying vegetarian meals, combining well with grains, beans, cheeses and plenty of vegetables. Ratatouille is a spectacular dish, incorporating many late season ingredients.

Melding beautifully with a variety of spices, ethnic dishes are a snap to prepare with eggplant. Middle Eastern baba ganouj, a delectable garlicky appetizer, is a wonderfully exotic way to enjoy eggplant, as is moussaka, a Greek specialty employing ground lamb, red wine and herbs, or perhaps an Asian stir fry is more your style. Eggplant will take wholeheartedly to the intense flavors of sesame oil, chili paste, garlic and ginger.

Savoring the Season Ratatouille

Serves 6

2 medium eggplant, washed and cut into chunks (do not peel)

2 sweet peppers, any color, seeded, cored and chunked

4 small hot peppers, any variety you like, seeded, cored and diced

1 zucchini, cut into 1 inch cubes

1 summer squash, cut into 1 inch cubes

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 large sweet onion, sliced

6-8 cloves of thinly sliced garlic

A big handful of mixed fresh herbs, chopped (parsley, oregano, basil, marjoram)

sea salt

2 dozen ripe cherry tomatoes or a big handful of fresh tomatoes, any variety

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat and saute onion for 10 minutes. Stir in garlic and saute for several minutes, then add eggplant and cook for 15 minutes. Add peppers, zucchini and summer squash, sprinkle with half the herbs and a pinch of sea salt. Cover the pan and simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the tomatoes and cook for 10 more minutes. Sprinkle the remaining herbs over the mixture and serve. It can be served hot or room temperature.

For more info on Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP, The Conscious Cook, go to theconsciouscook.net.