by John Ryan
Makes about 8 cups
Caponata is a great farmer's market recipe. It uses bright red bell peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes. It's perfect to make on a weekend afternoon. and it will last all week. Caponata is a thick vegetable relish. Serve it at room temperature with grilled bread, toast or crackers. You can dress it up by crumbling some feta or goat cheese over it. You can also use it to make a sandwich: bread, caponata, crumbled goat cheese, alfalfa sprouts.
A few hours to let it sit
Big pot with a lid
1 medium onion, diced
Celery, diced—half the onion amount
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 or 4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 red bell pepper, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
1 medium eggplant (approx. 1-1/4 pounds), diced into 1/2-inch cubes
3 cups peeled and diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons capers, drained
1/2 cup chopped black olives
1) Briskly sauté the onions and celery in the olive oil until the onions are brown around the edges.
2) Meanwhile, mince the garlic, anchovies, salt and pepper together. Add to the onions, turn the heat way down and let it stew while dicing the bell pepper and eggplant.
3) Add the diced pepper and eggplant. Cook over moderate heat until the eggplant is completely cooked, almost falling apart. (Eggplant is insatiable when it comes to oil. Don't feed it. If the eggplant sticks too much, toss in a spoonful of water to loosen it.)
4) Add the tomatoes and simmer, partially covered, until the tomatoes are cooked—10 to 15 minutes.
5) Stir in the vinegar, capers, and olives. Simmer uncovered for a few minutes (until it's no longer watery) then fine-tune the seasoning with salt and pepper. Put in a bowl and let it cool uncovered. When it's at room temperature, serve or refrigerate.
Salting: I don't salt eggplant. I've nothing against those who do, I'm just saying that I don't.
Peeling: Again, I don't. But it's a personal matter. If you don't like the way eggplant skins feel in your mouth, then peel the eggplant next time you make caponata.
Both chef and musician, John Ryan wrote the Just Good Food blog from 1996 through 2001.
This page created July 2001
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