For this week Meat Free Monday, I am sharing with you may new found meatless recipe that I am madly in-love with, Caponata. Some people say its an eggplant stew, some say its an antipasto, some categorize it as a side dish. How about you, what’s your take on this dish? I would say all those 3 could be correct depending on the how your final product looks like. If you like to have a slight thick sauce with it, then that will qualify as eggplant stew. If you are like me who likes it totally reduced then I’ll go for more like antipasto or a side dish. I prefer mine to be reduced because I like to highlight texture and flavor in this dish. I don’t like it to have too much sauce which could happen when you cook it as a stew. I like the eggplant to be cooked and soft, but I also like it to retain its shape. I like seeing bits and pieces of vegetables intact together. For me, Caponata is all about texture and tremendous amount of taste and flavor. But then again, it’s all about personal preference. I say, make it the way you like it.
The eggplant can be roasted, fried or sautéed, but for this recipe I had it lightly fried with olive oil to save some time, besides I like the texture and taste better when cooked that way. If you decide to roast, bake or grilled the eggplant, make sure to coat the eggplant with olive oil and a little sprinkle of salt.
The rest of the step is very easy. Just sauté each ingredients one after the other while using the same pan all through out the process. The addition of vinegar, raisins and sugar to make it a little bit sweet and sour is what really made this dish stands out. Although I cannot helped but get my hands on this dish the moment I finished cooking it, I had to control myself not to give in. Don’t worry, there’s a reward for being patient with this dish. Leaving the dish for few hours or overnight will make the dish developed the flavor even more.
This was the firdt time that I’ve heard about this, and the first time I made it and the first time that I tried it. That first, was not the last because I made it several times already, it’s that good. I like having this with my homemade bread, with steamed white rice (my favorite pair!), with pasta or as toppings for my pizza. It’s like my Ratatouille recipe which has several use for it, kind of versatile. It’s a real life saver for busy days, simple and yet satisfyingly delicious. Let me show you how I did it. Let’s get started!
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 400 grams eggplant – cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 small yellow/white onion – thinly sliced
- 1 stalk of celery – diced
- 1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives – cut 1/2 into half and leave the rest as whole
- 1 small tomato – chopped
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 3 tbsp raisins
- 3 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp chili flakes
flat-leaf parsley (chopped for garnish)
- In a heated pan, pour olive oil then add the eggplant and fry, turning over several times until golden brown. Transfer the eggplant to the paper towel lined rack.
- Add the onions, tomato and saute until they are tender and starting to brown.
- Add the celery, olives, chili flakes and saute until the celery starts turning translucent, but still crunchy.
- Add the tomato paste and simmer until sauce is reduced.
Finish the Caponata by adding the raisins, vinegar and brown sugar then stir. Return the cooked eggplant to the pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste and continue to cook until the liquid has evaporated.
Let the Caponata cool and then refrigerate overnight. Serve the Caponata at room temperature, sprinkled with fresh chopped parsley and crusty bread, with pasta or steamed white rice.
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