Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Caponata, a Sicilian Eggplant Stew


 I've tried a few different Caponata recipes, because I love the sweet, sour and tangy flavours typical of this Mediterranean vegetable stew. It's also a handy dish to make at home when I have extra eggplants and herbs. In this version, my favourite so far, the sultanas add a piquant sweetness to the earthiness of the eggplant without adding too much sugar,which combined with the vinegar gives this dish the moreish factor. It can be eaten hot, warm or cold.

 Mr. HRK is always hesitant when it comes to  eggplant dishes. However, this one has won him over, and over lunch when I served it he surprised himself and me by saying still quite tentatively, because he couldn't quite believe it,  how much he enjoyed it. I used the white eggplants in this, which are always home grown by me or our friend Paul, however any type can be used, but they must be very fresh, preferably picked on the same morning. There is no room for any bitterness in this dish. That is probably the secret to  enjoying this one which is great because the recipe makes a large amount, some of which can be frozen for later.



I am indulging myself by putting this recipe on my blog for easy access and for your enjoyment too, as it is a version adapted from the taste.com website. I need to know I can find it really easily next time, when I have forgotten where it originally came from. However, I change the recipe slightly each time I make it, depending  on what I have on hand. This time I used lots of fresh tomatoes instead of canned as they needed to be used, and omitted the orange zest rather than make a special trip to the shops to buy an orange. I also only have basil growing now as it has been very hot and my parsley has died as a result. A lot of recipes, are just a guide and can be varied within limits. Despite the variations, this dish is still delicious and simple to make.

Ingredients:

1/3 cup olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
1 stalk of celery
2 medium sized white eggplants, 3 lebanese eggplants, or one large purple eggplant, cut into 2cm cubes (whatever you have really)
1 large red capsicum, diced into 2 cm pieces
5 large very ripe fresh tomatoes, or 1x400g can chopped tomatoes (I've used both at different times)
3 garlic cloves finely chopped
350ml of stock, beef, chicken or vegetable , whatever you prefer or have on hand ( in an ideal world homemade is best)
1/4 cup (50g) capers, rinsed
1/4 cup pitted green olives (the Sicilian ones in a bottle are delicious)
1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar, or red wine vinegar
1/4 cup (40g) sultanas
1 tablespoon grated orange zest ( still delicious without this)
1 teaspoon caster sugar (if you like it sweeter)
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup chopped basil leaves
1/4 cup (40g) toasted pine nuts

Serve with char grilled slices of sourdough bread for an easy meal, perhaps with a poached egg on top.

There will be leftover capers and olives in the jars after making this dish. If you enjoy these types of flavours and I know you will, my Chicken Marbella recipe will use up the rest of the capers and olives. They will keep in the bottles for a while in the refrigerator, so you can plan ahead for this one as it is a special occasion Mediterranean dish.

Method:

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large fry pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and celery and and cook for 3-5 minutes, until slightly softened, stirring all the time. Add the rest of the oil, and add the eggplant, cooking and stirring for 5-8 minutes, until the eggplant starts to soften but isn't dry.

Add the capsicum, tomatoes, garlic and stock and cook for another 15 minutes, until the vegetables start to cook together and break down.

Add the capers, olives, vinegar, sultanas, orange zest, sugar and some sea salt and ground black pepper to taste. Simmer gently for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the Caponata becomes thick and stewy.

Stir through the herbs and pine nuts and serve with some delicious char grilled or toasted sourdough bread. Treat it like a Bruschetta, it can be served hot or warm or cold, as a starter or as a main meal. If you like a glass of wine with your meal, a glass of chilled rose will hit the spot.

I also sometimes serve the Caponata with pasta as a sauce for a more filling meal. Add 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan, and increase the amount of tomatoes to 2 cans so that the mixture is more like a sauce. I also increase the amount of  capers and olives to 1/3 cup of each and add lots of basil. It is so adaptable as a dish to enjoy at anytime of day!

It is the amazing Summer of tennis, and we are relaxing in front of the TV watching the Australian Open. Nick Kyrgios just won his match in a thriller which was great. Dasher is about to start playing so must go. Love the tennis, do you?

Thanks for dropping by.

Best wishes

Pauline

















8 comments:

  1. Pauline I grew a couple of eggplants last year but never used them unfortunately. I really am not used to cooking with them. I did buy a couple of little ones last week and used them in stir fry so really need to start experimenting with them a bit more. Parsley grows like weeds here but my basil hasn't grown well at all for some reason. It is currently very dry again here. I hope you are getting some rain up there but it seems to be around the Cairns area.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No rain here yet Chel, hard to believe really.My sister in law lives in Toowoomba and her parsley thrives as well. I'll just make the most of my basil:)

      Delete
  2. Yum! My dad was Sicilian so I reckon I should make this 😄. Will write capers on the shopping list with this in mind! It's a bit hot here at the moment and my eggplant plants are not thriving as well but I do have quite a few fruit on the 3 plants.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope that awful beetle hasn't found your eggplants Maria, because normally they like the heat as long as they receive a little water. I'm sure they will be ok. Pauline.

      Delete
  3. Caponata is one of my favorite dishes. I make it often, but have never used sultanas. I'll try your version next time. Thanks Pauline.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I hope you enjoy it with sultanas Nil. I think it is the secret ingredient:)

    ReplyDelete
  5. yum i love eggplants and this sounds great.. we can't grow basil here due to turkeys and bugs, plus it just bolts when there is a bit of heat. as you would undoubtedly know:) i must try making this soon. cheers S

    ReplyDelete