Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sicilian Eggplant Caponata

4 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
Stalk or so of celery, chopped (optional)
Handful kalamata olives, chopped
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp capers
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 or 2 tbsp tomato paste
1 or 2 eggplant, peeled, cubed, dried
Salt, pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes, fresh basil and/or oregano to taste (optional)
Toasted pine nuts (optional)

Dry eggplant thoroughly by salting cubes, tossing, and letting drain in a colander for 30 minutes. Squeeze and press excess moisture out with paper towel.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan and fry the dried eggplant cubes.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in another, non-reactive pan. Caramelize onions with celery for about 10 minutes over medium-high heat; add garlic in the last 1-2 minutes of caramelization. Add olives, capers, sugar and stir for another minute or so. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, and vinegar; stir over heat until thickened. Add fried eggplant, combine well. Season with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and fresh herbs. Top with toasted pine nuts.

Personal Note: Made this because Robert spied some eggplant at the grocery store and oohed and aahed; it was an impulse purchase (plus, it replaced the okra I wanted to make but isn't in season now for the fancy vegetable of the week). I have never made caponata before, but this looks and smells pretty good. I doubt it will be as delicious as the roasted eggplant and orzo dish I made last month, though...

This is an amalgam of the bevy of recipes I found scouring the internet, which explains why much of it is worded clumsily and has rough estimates for measures. It's interesting how wild the variations on this are...sometime I might try it with some anchovy, green pepper, or who knows what else. There's even a version with octopus!

I want to send it to my mom because she loves eggplant but dad hates it, so she never gets to eat it. People online claim caponata is a dish even people who dislike eggplant like. Here's hoping!

I don't really know how to eat's sort of relish-y, but also like bruschetti topping. And it seems like it'd be tasty topping and stuffing a baked pasta dish, or maybe even on top of penne. Hmm...

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