Well, summer is quickly winding down and the kids are back in school. Soon fall will be here and the air will feel a little cooler. But, for now, gardeners everywhere are still reaping the rewards of their labor in the form of tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers, etc. This recipe is a great way to make use of all of those vegetables.
Caponata is a Sicilian eggplant dish. It's like a cooked vegetable salad or relish done in agrodolce style, which is a very Sicilian thing. Agrodolce simply means"sweet and sour" and is usually achieved by using a combination of vinegar and sugar. It's a very versatile dish, able to be eaten hot, cold, or at room temperature. I love this as a topping for grilled bread, but it's also delicious in a sandwich (plain or with Italian meats and cheeses) or alongside roast meat or fish or a fried egg in the morning. There are many different variations of caponata, probably as many as there are cooks. This one comes from Everyday Italian by Giada De Laurentiis. I love it!
Everyday Caponata (makes about 1 quart)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2" cubes
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/2" pieces
14 1/2 oz. can diced tomatoes with the juices
3 tblsp. raisins
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
4 tsp. sugar
1 tblsp. drained capers
1/2 tsp. salt (or more to taste)
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper (or more to taste)
Fresh basil leaves, for garnish
Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the celery and saute until it's crisp-tender, about 2 minutes.
Add the eggplant and saute until it begins to soften, about 2 minutes.
Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes.
Add the red pepper and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.
Add the diced tomatoes, raisins, and oregano. Simmer over med.-low heat until the flavors blend and the mixture thickens, stirring often, about 20 minutes.
Stir in the vinegar, sugar, capers, salt, and pepper. Mix thoroughly and transfer the caponata to a bowl. Garnish with basil leaves and serve, as desired.
By the way, if you won't use the full quart of caponata, just divide it into two pint-size mason jars and freeze one, or.....share one with the Italian next door. :)
This was yummy on top of some fresh ricotta and grilled bread that had been rubbed with garlic and drizzled with some extra-virgin olive oil !
For printable recipe, click here.