Eggplant Dip and Zucchini Provençal

The fresher the garlic, the stronger the smell and the better it works, both medicinally and in your cooking. It's freshest straight from your own garden.....and it's one of those easy kinds of herbs that you don't need to

tend--it just keeps popping back up year after year. Harvest the bulb after the blooms have died down.

For centuries, garlic has been ingested to make you stronger and healthier. Whether you believe in it's curative powers or not, if you are a lover of the "stinking rose", then you will surely enjoy these two recipes.

Provençal is a term coming from southern France on the Riviera. It means to cook with olive oil, garlic and tomatoes--like in a ratatouille . It's strong smelling and divine tasting. Zucchini provencal is my variation. You can vary it, too, by adding yellow squash or even eggplant. For four servings, you'll need:

3 ea.                    medium zucchini, diced
2 TB                     olive oil 
1 ea.                    large tomato, diced
1 TB                     fresh chopped basil
1 TB                     fresh chopped garlic
to taste                 salt and pepper
2 TB                     fresh grated parmesan cheese

In a hot pan, saute the zzuchini in the oil for only a couple of minutes. Add the basil and garlic and cook 2 minutes more. Add the tomato, salt and pepper. Remove from the pan and top with grated cheese. This is a great side dish to go with roasted chicken. Don't forget a loaf of French bread. All garlic lovers sop up their leftover sauces with bread.

Another provençalish dish is Eggplant Dip. This one, too, can be served with some French bread, crackers or some heavenly fried pita. For a bowl of dip, you'll need:

2 ea.                    medium eggplant
1 TB                     fresh garlic
1 ea.                    medium tomato
1 ea.                    small onion
1/8 cup                  fresh parmesan
dash                     tabasco
to taste                 salt and pepper

Split the eggplants in two and bake in the oven at 350 until there is no rawness left in the eggplant and they are light brown in color. Remove from oven and cool. Then chop coarsely and place in the blender with all the other ingredients, give it a whirl and you are done. Try either one of these recipes with Michigan's St. Julian Village Red wine. It's hearty enough and a real pleasant surprise. And as always, a creative cook is a good cook.