Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Caponata, capisci?

So that life wouldn't be all cakes and pies and buns, one has to make some real food every now and then. I saw some gloriously dark purple aubergines in the shop that found their way to caponata. And whaddayaknow - we have yet another vegetarian recipe in the blog! Not to mention one that's gluten-free and has no carbs!

Caponata is an Italian tomato bake/ salad, which is traditionally served at room temperature. Either as is (with wonderfully rustic, albeit white and therefore not terribly healthy bread...) or as a side dish or part of an antipasti spread. The ingredients and the cooking are simple, but like with so many simple dishes, the catch is the time it takes. See, first you have to sweat the aubergines, then fry them and then stew with tomatos. 

Without a doubt this is one of those classic recipes for on which everyone has their opinion and favourites, so feel free to work your own twists into it. Though, at least Jamie in Italy- series showed Italians are a rigid nation, stubbornly sticking to the way things "have always been done" so they wouldn't be getting too crazy with their classics. I don't even want to know what the mammas and nonnas would say about my use of cinnamon. But one of the things I have learnt in other Mediterranean cuisines is that cinnamon hearts tomato. 

As a main (perhaps with some green salad on the side) this would be enough for 2, as a side dish for 3-4

1 large (about 500 gr) aubergine
2 onions
1/2 tbsp cinnamon
3 large garlic cloves
400 g crushed tomatos
1 heaped tsp red wine vinegar
1 heaped tsp sugar
1/2 jar black olives
1 dl pine kernels, toasted
salt, pepper
big bunch of parsley

Cut the aubergine to slices of about 1 cm thick. Sprinkle liberally with salt and let them sweat for half and hour. Wipe clean and turn around. Repeat. Then cut each slice into 4 and fry in a  little bit of oil in batches. Drain on kitchen towel. Cut the onion into thickish slices and sauté until soft. Then add finely sliced garlic and cinnamon. Toss around a bit and add tinned tomato along with vinegar mixed with sugar. Then add aubergine and stir so everything is evenly coated. Keep cooking on low heat without a lid until the mixture is fairly dry - close to an hour. 

After about half an hour add the olives, rinsed and drained. Once it's ready, let cool . Before serving add pine kernels toasted lightly on a dry pan and the parsley leaves and check the taste, adding seasoning as needed (careful with salt - olives are salty!).




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