I just love my friends.
The other day when I walked into my cubicle at work, I found two bags lying next to my desk. Inside the one bag were some lovely fresh cherry tomatoes, the biggest I’ve ever seen… and in the other contained a purple eggplant and a white eggplant, along with some green and red peppers. Thank you Karen! I work with Karen’s husband and my very good friend Rob. I didn’t even have to think about what to do with all of those vegetables, because Caponata was the first thing that popped into my head.
I love caponata, and as soon as I typed this, I knew that it was truly an understatement. I ADORE it. I don’t make it very often, nor do I buy the jarred version very often, because it’s one of those things that is such a special treat when I finally do get around to it, and I want to keep it that way. Yes, I admit to eating the jarred version periodically…but that’s only because I have such a strong craving for it, and no time to make it, and usually it’s for a smoked ham and a thick slice of sharp provolone sandwich on a crusty roll that is just calling out for it’s beloved affinity of agrodolce (sweet and tangy). Usually I’ll serve it at a party with toasted baguette that have been drizzled in olive oil, and rubbed with roasted garlic.
I brought a jar of it for Rob and Karen to try, because Rob told me that he had never heard of it after I mentioned to him what I was making with the vegetables that Karen sent in for me. He spooned a nice large dollop onto a baguette slice, and took his first bite. I had the pleasure of watching his eyes roll into the back of his head, and I knew that I knocked that recipe right out of the water!!
The only suggestion that I would have for you for this recipe, is to cook it down as long as you can. I usually let mine cook down on low flame for at least 3 hours. While it’s delicious that same day, the longer it sits, the more the flavors fall in love and marry. Trust me, it’s worth the wait. It is most delicious when it is served cold. It keeps for about a week in the refrigerator, but you can also freeze it. This recipe will make enough for a jar to keep in your fridge, and a jar to keep in the freezer!
This time I roasted all of the vegetables before I threw them in the pan to cook down. I think that the next time I might try charring a few of the vegetables just to see what type of flavor that brings to the dish. I love charred vegetables. You’ll also notice that I put artichokes in mine. That’s not a typical ingredient, but I love them, and they love the caponata…. Lastly, this recipe calls for one white eggplant, but I only used it because that’s what Rob and Karen gave to me. It is totally ok to use two purple eggplants. Honestly.
1 medium purple eggplant, chopped
1 medium white eggplant, chopped
3 ribs of celery, chopped
2 large onions, chopped
4 cloves roasted garlic
25 large cherry tomatoes, cut in quarters
1 green pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 14oz can of artichoke hearts, drained and cut in half
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup capers, drained
1 5.75 oz jar sliced green olives with pimentos, drained
1 6 oz can large black olives, drained and sliced
2 cups tomato sauce
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup cider vinegar ( “Really?” you ask… “Yes, really” I reply…)
4 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 cup olive oil for drizzling
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar for drizzling
Toasted baguette slices, drizzled in olive oil and rubbed with cloves of roasted garlic
After chopping the eggplant, celery, onions, tomatoes, red and green peppers, and artichokes, place them all on a large cookie sheet, and drizzle them with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Cover with aluminum foil, and roast in the oven at 400 degrees for about an hour until they are lightly roasted, but still have a lot of juice.
Pour the roasted vegetables and their juice into a large pot, along with the garlic, black and green olives, pine nuts, capers, tomato sauce, red wine vinegar, cider vinegar, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Cook uncovered on the lowest heat setting or lowest flame for about two and a half to three hours, stirring often. You will know when it’s done, because it will have thickened up quite a bit, as the juices will have cooked out. Taste it, and if you think it needs more salt or pepper, then by all means, add more to suit your taste.
Cool completely. Serve on toasted baguette slices. Or enjoy it like I do on a smoked ham sandwich with a sharp provolone and crusty bread. You will love it, I promise!
Please bear with me while I learn the technical side of this, like the font, the spacing, the photos…etc… I’m in the early stages of learning!