Caponata - Sicilian Eggplant and Vegetable Melange
Caponata - an Italian delight combines eggplant with tomatoes, zucchini, celery and onion. Capers, olives and pine nuts are added for extra flavor. Here I use less oil than the typical dish. Red wine vinegar and agave nectar add that addictive sweet and sour taste.
Serve over large noodles with chopped celery leaves and toasted pine nuts.
Warm or cold - serve on baguette slices for an appetizer, snack or main course
The idea for this recipe came to me as I walked the aisles, last Saturday at the New Caanan, CT Farmers' Market. Which vegetables are plentiful, at the height of flavor and beauty? I found some new unusual offerings. There were these small globes of almost neon orange fruit (or was it a vegetable?), clustered on a vine. I asked Joe, the owner of Smith Acres, and he told me they were "Turkish Eggplants". Myself and a fellow shopper were guessing - persimmon! I bought about 6 small ones and was eager to fry them up. Inside, they were a little seedy, but the flavor was different and more buttery sweet than bitter - ooh my favorite eggplant. Just wish it was more plentiful and widely available. White eggplant is always creamy, sweet and non seedy. Then I bought a huge eggplant, mostly because I liked the deep mahogany-purple color, and it was a bargain at 3 dollars - and a cool name " Imperial Black Beauty". It cut into beautiful cubes, nice white non seedy interior. Eggplant is a member of the nightshade family, and is a fruit.
With so many eggplants in my basket, I decided to make Caponata - My Way. Eggplant contains a mere 28 calories per cup. Researching authentic Caponata recipes, Italian authors describe the dish as "fried eggplant". I have greatly reduced the oil in my recipe with great results! Using the Sicilian method with a sweet and sour taste - I added other summer bountiful vegetables, like colorful zucchinis and peppers, heirloom tomatoes and celery. Capers and olives add a Mediterranean flair, pine nuts add a great buttery flavor and crunch.
Delicious cold! Like stand up and eat it out of a container the next morning ~ with the refrigerator open - delicious. (Ok - I admitted it)
See the recipe too for tips of serving Caponata warm over pasta or crisp baguette slices.
Savor the last 4 weeks of summer.
Ingredients for the Caponata
Heirloom tomato selection in August
White, Turkish (orange), Black Beauty and Voilette di Firenze eggplants
Sauteing onions, adding colorful peeled tomatoes
Blanching the tomatoes; now seed and peel
The vegetables now to be mixed with the sauteed eggplant