Friday, August 31, 2012
Besides the actual cutting of the vegetables, the dish comes together rather quickly. Once all the vegetables are added to the pan, you can cook the vegetables as you like. Cook them quickly(almost stir fry-like) or cook the vegetables down a bit longer to the point where the eggplant breaks up a bit and sort of combines everything together. You choose. I chose the latter.
This dish is great warm, right after it's been cooked, but even better the next day when the flavors meld together. It's good at room temperature, cold, or warmed up. If you like ratatouille, ajvar, or the Romanian zacusca, you'll enjoy this dish as well(most likely). And if you want to make a quick version of zacusca-style spread, you can just skip the capers, olives, basil, and raisins. You can leave the spread chunky, or you can process the cooked vegetables to a finer consistency... reminiscent of zacusca. Just a thought.
But this is the type of dish that you can even make when you have an abundance of "leftover" vegetables in your fridge that need to be used up. Some of the ingredients don't necessarily have to be exact... I only used 2 TBS of capers, because that is what I had on hand(recipe says 1/2 cup). And since I didn't have a large red bell pepper I used a few mini peppers. I could easily see how I could have added some grated carrots for added sweetness, instead of the sugar or raisins. In any case, the posted recipe below makes a wonderful spread, a side dish, or even part of a main meal. I just love the simplicity of this dish. Hope you enjoy...
Note: While the sweetness of the sugar complements the ingredients, I chose to skip the refined sugar for golden raisins... feel free to use either. I personally love the "sweet pop" of the sweet raisins. I'm sure you can probably omit the sugar and raisins altogether.
Tip: This caponata is great as an appetizer with some fresh crusty bread. But because the recipe makes a decent amount, you may want to use some of the caponata as a base for pan-fried fish, veal, pork or any grilled meats. Actually, I used some of the caponata on top of leftover basmati rice, and had a delicious vegetarian dish. Simply delicious!
You will need: adapted from Gordon Ramsay's Fast Food with my own additions
5 TBS olive oil
1 large eggplant, cut into chunks
1 onion peeled, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 red pepper deseeded and chopped(I used 4-5 mini peppers)
salt and pepper
5 large tomatoes, skinned and deseeded
1 heaping TBS tomato paste(I added, so optional, but I find it gives that extra depth of flavor)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 TBS caster sugar(or 1/3 cup golden raisins, which is what I added)
1 1/2 -2 TBS red wine vinegar(or Balsamic vinegar)
1/2 cup green olives, pitted
1/2 capers, rinsed and drained(I only used 2 TBS)
1 red jalapeno, sliced(optional, I added for a tinge of spice)
handful of basil leaves, torn
pine nuts, optional(I didn't add)
1. Heat a pan of water, add tomatoes to hot water 30 secs-1 minute( or until the tomato peel can be easily removed). Remove tomatoes from water and peel. Cut into chunks. Do the same with all the other ingredients that need to be chopped. Set aside.
2. Heat the olive oil in a wide, heavy-based pan and sauté the eggplant, onion, celery and red pepper with some seasoning over a high heat for about 5 minutes.
3. Add the cut and peeled tomatoes to the pan along with the tomato paste, garlic, sugar (or golden raisins), vinegar, olives, red jalapeno(if using), and capers. Cook over high heat for 5–8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the aubergine is tender. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Sprinkle basil leaves. Add pine nuts, if desired