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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Caponata

Seasonal Recipe of the Week
Here is a great recipe for Caponata, which is an Italian eggplant sort of dip. It’s chunky and has a nice mix of sweet and sour flavors and almost all the ingredients can currently be bought at the farmer’s market.

Ingredients
4 small globe-shaped eggplants, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
3 tablespoons kosher salt
6 celery stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 ripe plum tomatoes (San Marzano), peeled and chopped, save juice
Salt and pepper
3 fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 cups Extra Virgin olive oil
1 onion chopped
1 cup pitted green olives
1/2 cup salt-packed capers, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar

Procedure
Put the eggplant cubes in colander. Sprinkle with salt and toss to coat. Place a plate on top of eggplant and put a heavy can on top of that to weigh it down. This will cause the bitter liquid to drain form the eggplant. Let drain for 1 hour in sink.

Meanwhile, bring a saucepan full of water to the boil and blanch celery for 1 minute. Drain and set aside to cool. Next make the tomato sauce. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and stir till golden brown — don’t let it burn. Add tomatoes, juice, and seasoning and bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes to reduce liquid, then lower to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes more till thick. Add basil during last 5 minutes. You should end up with 2 cups of sauce, set it aside.

Now rinse and dry eggplant. In a sauté pan add 1 cup of olive oil and quickly fry eggplant cubes in small batches till golden brown on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer to paper towels to drain excess oil. Now add remaining 1/2 cup olive oil to pan, add onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Next add blanched celery, then tomato sauce, capers, olives, vinegar, and sugar. Simmer for 5 minutes to blend flavors, then add eggplant. Reduce heat to medium low and cook for 10 minutes longer. Remove from heat and let cool. Store in a jar in the frig. Let sit 24 hours before serving. Bring to room temperature before serving. Will last in fridge 1 week.