Sunday, August 18, 2013

Eggplant Caponata

What a day today! We've had veggies from the CSA slowly building up over the last couple weeks and I decided to put some serious effort to use them up before more comes in this week. First, the remaining cucumbers went into another batch of bread and butter pickles (the first batch of which turned out fantastically by the way). My next target was 3 pounds of yellow squash that I used to make a triple batch of fritters. I used the same recipe as before, but this time mixed in chopped Swiss chard that I sauteed with a clove of garlic and the last of the hot peppers. By tripling the recipe, I ended up with 12 big fritters, most of those will be frozen for a future meal. After all that work, there was still eggplant and several bell peppers left to use, and from that I decided to make caponata.

Caponata is a Sicilian dish centered around eggplant that is cooked until very soft with a variety of other vegetables in a sweet, vinegary sauce. In addition to the eggplant, a traditional caponata should have celery and capers in the mix, but after that there are many other things you could add depending on your taste. Bell pepper was already in for me, and to that I added onion, tomato, garlic and olives. This is a fairly simple dish to make and it gets better with age, which is good because the eggplant I had was rather large, and when all was complete I had close to 2 quarts of caponata. We typically eat this as a snack on chips or slices of baguette, though it can be used as a side dish and will go quite well with seafood.

Share Contents Used
Bell Pepper

6 cups eggplant, cubed
1 tbs kosher salt
Olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup green olives, chopped
1-1/2 cups canned crushed tomato
3 tbs capers, rinsed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tbs sugar
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped.

Toss the cubed eggplant with 1 tbs salt and then place in a colander over a bowl and let sit for 15 minutes so the salt can draw some of the water out of the eggplant. When the time is up, give the eggplant a quick rinse with fresh water and allow to drain completely. Spread the eggplant on a sheet pan and season with pepper and drizzle with olive oil, toss to coat then roast in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat one tablespoon of oil over medium heat in a large nonstick skillet, then add the onion, bell pepper and celery and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook for another minute. Add the eggplant to the pan and cook, stirring for another 5 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and the eggplant starts to fall apart.

Add the crushed tomatoes to the pan along with the capers, olives, sugar and vinegar. Bring to a simmer then turn the heat to low and cook, stirring often, for 20 to 30 minutes, until the vegetables are very tender and the mixture is quite thick and fragrant. Stir in the basil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Allow to cool to room temperature before serving.

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