I consider myself an artist. After all, the pastry school I graduated from was The Art Institute...As an artist, I appreciate so much when I am cooking or baking something special for someone and they have an idea of what they want. (Rather than, "Oh, I don't know, just make something good.") My father in law, who is visiting, (and is also an artist, I might add) perhaps understands this. When I asked him what he wanted for dinner last night he said, "Eggplants and Italian food!" It's sooo much easier to find inspiration to make people happy when I know where to start!
I honestly don't eat eggplant that very often. The problem is, if done incorrectly eggplant can tend to be too sour and even bitter. This recipe I found in one of my cookbooks takes care of all of those problems, mixing the eggplant with an array of other flavors of tart, sweet, and spicy. It's really like a party in the mouth!
I was quite shocked on how delicious this dish ended up being. We ate is as recommended- served on sliced baguette, a la bruschetta. However, the texture and flavor of it is so fantastic that I was dreaming up other ways to serve it as I was enjoying it. You could serve it hot, cold, or room temperature. On bread, with ciabatta and mozzarella as a sandwich, on rice, on pasta, on it's own, or with tortilla chips or crackers. Mmmm, might be good in a pita with feta and olives, too. Needless to say, it's something great to have around in the kitchen for meals or snacking.
It's also really simple and really good for you. It took me about 25 minutes from start to finish. I have no idea what "caponata" means.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1(14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons raisins
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon drained capers
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
Heat 1/4 cup of the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the celery and saute until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Add the eggplant and saute until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Season with salt. Add the red pepper and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes with their juices, raisins, and oregano. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Simmer over medium-low heat until the flavors blend and the mixture thickens, stirring often, about 20 minutes. Add the vinegar, sugar, and capers. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.