Caponata is one of those great, flexible dishes that allows you to adjust the recipe to your taste, and use it in any number of ways. Once you’ve got the general gist of it, you’re off and racing. It’s incredibly easy, too. There’s really only about two or three steps.
Basically, Caponata is a Sicilian Eggplant (Aubergine) dish, with the other main ingredient being a vinegar of some kind. I use an Italian Red Wine Vinegar, but again, that could be adjusted. You could even go as far as a Balsamic glaze, but given the absorbency of Eggplant, I don’t think that would work too well unless you allowed it to sit for an awful long time. Could be interesting though.
The general recipe (Apologies, I am just not any good at photographing food yet):
Tonight I used the following, but I do adjust depending on what I have to hand:
1 large Eggplant
500g Vine ripened tomatoes (Roma are good, but not too ripe)
1 Large red onion
1 small brown onion
3 sliced garlic gloves
Mixed Italian Herbs
3 stalks celery, sliced
2 large leeks
Red wine vinegar (the amount will depend on the size of your eggplant)
2tbs olive oil
Start with some nice fresh vegetables
Drizzle a little of the olive oil into a heavy-based pan, and when hot, toss your leek, onion and celery until the onion becomes clear. Reduce heat.
Add your zucchini, chop up your eggplant and tomato, and add to the pot. This is when you would add the vinegar of your choice. The amount will vary depending on the size and ripeness of the eggplant. You’ll want to add it bit by bit, until your Eggplant starts to take on the colour of the vinegar. Stop at that point, or you’re going to get too soggy. Add in your herbs of choice, and some finely sliced garlic. I add the red onion and tomato about now, since I wanted a little bit of texture to it, and the red onion it’s a nice counterpoint to the buttery texture of the eggplant. Turn up the heat, cooking for a few moments, until the eggplant becomes soft but is still springy.
You’re pretty much done! I’ve served this before in hollowed out loaves of bread, on pasta as a sauce, and on rice for Jeremy since he’s a big rice fan. Tonight I did rice for him, and Cous Cous for me.
Speaking of Cous Cous, I’ve come up with a great way of keeping track of how much dry material I have to hand. Containers that have little plastic scribble notes you can attach, and write what’s in them, and how much. I hate getting caught 100 grams short of something. They’re easily erasable, so you can change it as you use it.
I’d say this recipe takes 30 minutes if serving in bread, 45 with rice or pasta, allowing for the cooking time of the rice or pasta.