In Maine, the real height of farmers markets – at least in the midcoast region where I live – is in September. The markets burst with bounty, and it gets even harder to resist buying way more than seems prudent. Somehow, my husband and I always seem to get through it in a week’s time without a problem, savoring every flavorful (and healthy) bite.


For the last month or so of summer, I make this – or a variation – about once a week. It’s a very forgiving dish, with many possible substitutions open to the farmers market shopper. You can use sliced fennel, or young turnips or kohlrabi, greens, beans, tomatoes – almost any vegetable. A bit of starch in the form of potatoes, leftover rice, or cubed bread adds body and substance, and ham contributes smoky, salty flavor. Serve with pickled beets and crusty country bread (from the farmers market!) and butter.

Makes 2 to 3 servings

3 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional if necessary

1 small (about ½ pound) eggplant, unpeeled, cut in ½-inch rounds


¾ teaspoon salt, plus more to season eggplant

1 medium onion, sliced

2 small summer squash, any color (about ½ pound), sliced

1 red frying pepper (about 4 ounces), sliced

½ cup slivered ham or smoked sausage (optional)

About ¾ cup starch – cubed leftover potatoes, rice, or bread or pasta


About ½ cup torn basil leaves

5 eggs

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¾ cup shredded cheese, such as cheddar

Heat oil in a 10-inch skillet with ovenproof handle. Season eggplant with salt and cook over medium heat, turning once or twice, until softened and nicely browned, about 10 minutes. Remove to a plate.

Add a tablespoon or 2 more oil to pan if necessary. Sauté onion, squash, pepper and optional ham over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tinged with brown and softened, about 8 minutes. Stir in cooked potatoes or other starch, layer eggplant over vegetables and scatter with basil.


Preheat broiler. Beat eggs with 3/4 teaspoon salt and pepper and pour evenly over vegetables. Cover pan and cook over low heat, tilting pan and lifting up edges of frittata to allow uncooked egg to flow to the bottom, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese. Place pan in oven about 5 inches from heat source and broil until cheese melts and top browns slightly.

Cut into wedges to serve.


Pickled beets are one of those old-fashioned dishes whose goodness lies in its simplicity. These days, with pretty golden varieties and striped Chioggias in the mix, the resulting pickle is more beautiful and more delicious than ever.

Makes about 1½ cups

12 ounces (about 8 medium) trimmed beets, at least 2 colors if possible


Salt for cooking

2/3 cup cider vinegar

¼ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup beet-cooking water or plain water

1 teaspoon salt

½ cup slivered onion


Cover beets with water, add salt, and cook, covered, until tender, about 30 minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel beets and cut into ½-inch dice. (Alternatively, wrap beets in foil and roast in a 375-degree oven for about 40 minutes until tender.)

In a medium saucepan, bring vinegar, sugar, water and salt to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Put beets and onion in a bowl, pour pickling liquid over and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to a week.

Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently “Chowderland: Hearty Soups & Stews with Sides and Salads to Match.” She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula, and can be contacted via Facebook at:

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