First it was the copy of a cookbook I was sent that was all about Italy - food and otherwise. Then, it was the stack of Italian cookbooks on the shelf at the boy's house that I got lured into. After that, the theme of gnocchi for Hay Hay It's Donna Day. The next movie in my Netflix list was Italian for Beginners (which I still haven't watched). When I got the latest Food and Wine magazine in the mail and saw the Italian themed cover, I threw my hands up. I get the point - we're having an Italian food moment. It's everywhere.
Caponata is one of my favorite Italian dishes. While I have heard of people serving it warm as a side dish, I prefer the cold "antipasti" version. Making this gave me an excellent excuse to crack open Jamie's Italy by Jamie Oliver. I really love this cookbook for all sorts of reasons - Jamie's loose writing style, the beautiful first hand experience photos, and the rustic feel of the book. If you haven't checked it out yet, do so.
I used Jamie's recipe as a springboard for my caponata. While he likes his a little firmer, I appreciate digging into the stewed, comforting texture of it when it's been cooked a bit more. The seeds in the eggplant don't bother me so much since it sort of falls in line with the stewed texture - to each their own. I also like mine after it sits for a day or two and the flavors really merge and mingle. Enjoy this on some toasted bread, with slices of prosciutto & a glass of wine, or as accompaniment to roasted meats.
- olive oil
- 2 nice large purple eggplants, cut into large chunks
- 1 heaping teaspoon dried oregano
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
- a small bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and stems finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons salted capers, rinsed, soaked,and drained
- a handful of green olives, pits removed
- 2—3 tablespoons best-quality herb vinegar
- 5 large ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
- optional: 2 tablespoons slivered almonds, lightly toasted
|-||Get yourself a large pan, pour in a couple of glugs of olive oil, and place on the heat. Add your eggplant chunks and oregano, season with a little salt, and toss around so the eggplant is evenly coated by the oil. Cook on a high heat for around 4 or 5 minutes, giving the pan a shake every now and then. (Depending on the size of your pan you may need to cook the eggplant in batches.)|
|-||When the eggplants are nice and golden on each side, add the onion, garlic, and parsley stems and continue cooking for another couple of minutes. Feel free to add a little more oil to the pan if you feel it's getting too dry.|
|-||Throw in the drained capers and the olives and drizzle over the herb vinegar. When all the vinegar has evaporated, add the tomatoes and simmer for around 15 minutes or until tender.|
|-||Taste before serving and season if you need to with salt, pepper, and a little more vinegar. Drizzle with some good olive oil and serve sprinkled with the chopped parsley leaves and the almonds if you like.|