Olive oil

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Stack four pita loaves, one on top of another. Cut loaves into 6 wedges. Repeat with remaining pita bread. Arrange wedges on baking sheets. Brush each wedge with a little olive oil. Sprinkle on some garlic powder if you wish. Bake about 15 minutes, until toasty. Switch baking sheets on shelves halfway through baking. Makes 48 toasts.

The caponata

This recipe makes more caponata than you'll probably need, but consider it investment cooking. Try it later in omelets, with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Or saute some chicken, then add the caponata along with some of your homemade marinara sauce, or even a best quality store bought jar sauce, and serve over penne pasta.

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3 medium eggplants

Vegetable cooking spray

About 4 tablespoons olive oil

3 medium onions, finely chopped

1 1/2 cups finely chopped fennel, or use celery

2 large zucchini, scrubbed, trimmed, finely chopped

1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped perfectly ripe tomatoes

1/3 cup drained capers (chopped if large)

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

5 teaspoons sugar

Freshly ground black pepper

Sea salt, if you must

Pre-heat broiler and cut eggplants into half-inch thick slices (don't peel). Arrange on a broiler pan (in batches) and lightly spray cooking spray over eggplant slices. Broil until tops are brown, about 5 minutes. Turn eggplant slices over and continue broiling until slices begin to brown on other side. Remove to a baking sheet and repeat process with remaining eggplant. When eggplant is cool enough to handle, cut slices into small dice and set aside.

In a large, non-stick skillet, over medium-high, heat olive oil. Add onions and fennel and saute until fennel begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add zucchini and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, capers, vinegar, sugar and pepper. Continue cooking for 5 minutes. Add diced broiled eggplant and stir well. Simmer about 5 minutes longer. Taste for seasonings. Serve at room temperature. Or refrigerate or freeze and bring to room temperature before serving. Serve with pita toasts. Makes about 8 cups.

Entree salad

This combination of shrimp, feta cheese and tomatoes continues our quasi-Mediterranean theme. Arrange the salad in a platter lined with red and green lettuce leaves. Save some oregano sprigs for garnish (or use fresh parsley). You can make the salad a day ahead, then cover and chill until serving time. But bring to room temperature before servings.