Eggplant caviar, the classic Russian appetizer. Eggplant caviar is like borsch in that there's no standard recipe for it; every cook has his tricks. This is how I make it:
Preheat the oven to 425; pierce one medium eggplant all over with a fork and bake until soft, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Cut the eggplant in half; peel; chop the pulp.
Heat some olive oil in a large skillet. Be generous with the oil, as eggplant absorbs quite a lot of it. No one likes a dry eggplant caviar. It should be nicely oily, but not greasy.
Finely chop and saute: A large onion, two small or one large carrot, 1-1.5 cup bell peppers. You can use green or red or whatever peppers. I used orange and yellow. Cook vegetables until the onion is golden and the carrots and peppers and soft.
Add the eggplant pulp and 1 minced garlic clove. Simmer over low heat for 10-15 minutes. Seasoning eggplant caviar is the hardest part. You typically use tomatoes, canned or fresh, or tomato paste; a little sugar; lemon juice or vinegar; salt and pepper. I end up using a different combo every time and I don't keep track of proportions, tasting until I get it right. This time I used about 1/2 cup of chopped, canned tomatoes, a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste, a teaspoon of sugar, a couple of squirts of lemon juice and red wine vinegar and a couple of dashes of salt and black pepper.
After adding the seasonings, simmer for 15 more minutes. Add another finely minced garlic clove or two, depending on how much you like garlic, and take off the heat. Transfer to a bowl and chill for several hours in the fridge. Serve cold or even warm, but never hot.
You can eat eggplant caviar with rye or pita bread, but it's just as good over rice or with some boiled new potatoes. I even like it with pasta. When eggplant caviar turns out very well, people will eat it straight right out of the serving bowl.