Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Caponata (fresh from Sicily!)

Well not exactly, but this Sicilian dish is like our Turkish mixed vegetable dish (vegetarian “Turlu”) but with a big twist and lighter and more tender. You can eat it hot (as we did with plain rice) or cold (like any 'zeytinyagli' dishes). And the recipe is from Jamie’s Italy.

big chunks of eggplants getting golden in the pan
So we needed 2 firm eggplants that are cut into large chunks (Jamie advises not to cut into small cubes as they absorb more oil if they are cut small), dried oregano, 1 small red onion (finely chopped), 2 gloves of garlic (finely sliced), a small bunch of parsley (leaves picked and stalks finely chopped), 2 tablespoons of salted capers (rinsed), a handful of green olives (pitted), 2-3 tablespoons good quality herb vinegar (in our case balsamic) and 4-5 ripe tomatoes (roughly chopped).

vegetables simmering nicely
First we started with eggplants to be fried in olive oil (enough to cover the pan) with oregano for a couple of minutes and seasoned with a little salt. When the eggplants turned golden on each side, we added onion, garlic and parsley stalks and continued cooking for a few more minutes. Then capers and olives were thrown in with vinegar drizzling all over the vegetables. When the vinegar evaporated, we added the tomatoes and left it for simmering for 15 minutes. Before serving we drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled chopped parsley leaves (you can add slightly toasted sliced almonds here as well, we didn’t have it). Our rice was ready in the rice cooker in the meantime. And we had a healthy, fulfilling, South Italian dish in our breezy backyard.

Note: So what make this dish different than our usual ‘Turlu’ is obviously adding olives and capers to vegetables and vinegar while cooking them. Also non-peeled big chunks of eggplants and tomatoes make the dish really light and tender (as they don’t absorb too much oil and get squashy).

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