Italian Vegetable and Potato Stew

Italian Vegetable and Potato Stew Category Stews 
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Ingredients And Procedures

1 lg Eggplant -- peeled and cut

-into 1-inch cubes 1 1/2 tb Fine sea salt

3 tb Olive oil or more as needed

1 md Onion -- chopped

2 Celery ribs, with leaves

-chopped 1 Green bell pepper -- seeded

-and chopped 2 Garlic cloves -- minced

3 md Boiling potatoes -- cut into

-1/2-inch thick slices 1 cn Unsweetened tomatoes in

-puree (28 oz) 1 c Vegetable stock

1/8 ts Red pepper flakes -- crushed

1/2 c Fresh basil -- chopped, OR

1 t Dried basil

1 c Mediterranean black olives

-pitted and chopped

Place the eggplant in a colander and toss with 1 teaspoon of the salt. Let stand for 1 hour to draw out the bitter juices. Rinse well, drain and pat dry with kitchen towels. Heat 2 tbs of the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. (You may have to add a little more oil if the eggplant sticks). Transfer to a plate and set aside. Heat the remaining 2 tbs oil in the pan, and add the onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the reserved eggplant, the potatoes, the tomatoes with their puree, vegetable stock, the remaining 1/2 tsp salt, and the red pepper flakes; if using dried basil, add it now. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Stir in the olives and, if using, the fresh basil, and continue cooking to blend the flavors, about 5 minutes. Serve the stew hot, warm or at room temperature. From DEEANNE's recipe files

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