A balance of flavors, textures and temperatures is what makes food interesting. Having sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami elements in a dish make it more satisfying. Cool, crisp and crunchy foods complement warm and soft foods. Our winter menus heavily favor comforting foods like soups and stews, but lack the acidic punch of summer dishes. A splash of vegetal excitement might be just what you’re missing.
Caponata is Sicilian eggplant dish with many variations. A batch of caponata can be served as a bruschetta topping, as a side dish with meat or fish, or tossed with pasta. It is always sweet and sour, but can include a variety of ingredients. To this basic recipe, raisins, anchovies, pine nuts, chili flakes, basil, and/or mint can be added. For the truly adventurous, there’s a traditional Sicilian recipe for caponata that includes octopus.
It is said that each Italian family has their own version. If you don’t have an Italian family recipe, try this one:
¾ - 1 Cup olive oil
Salt & pepper
One medium purple eggplant, diced
One medium yellow onion, diced
Two stalks celery, diced
2 teaspoons sugar
¼ Cup red wine vinegar
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
6 – 8 Sicilian green olives, chopped
3 Tablespoons capers, drained
In a large sauté pan, brown eggplant in olive oil over medium-high heat in two or three batches, about 5 – 7 minutes per batch. Season with salt and pepper. Add more olive oil to the pan, as needed, for each batch. Reserve browned eggplant on the side and add onion and celery to the pan. Season with salt and pepper and cook 5 – 7 minutes. Add sugar and vinegar to the pan, scraping the pan to loosen any browned bits (fond) from the pan. Add tomatoes, reserved eggplant, olives and capers. Simmer 15 – 20 minutes. Caponata can be served warm or room temperature.