Flexible recipes are a busy cook’s dream. There is nothing better than a dip that can morph into a sauce, or a salad that becomes your breakfast smoothie. Caponata, a recent discovery for me, exemplifies that flexibility. The various recipes that I have tried, have found their way onto cheese platters, and antipasto plates. They have been wonderous sides for grilled meats and recently a rich topping for quesadillas. This particular recipe is complex, bold, and compliments so many other dishes. Next time, I want to make it into a pasta sauce with a few zaps in my Cuisinart. Topped with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese, this would make a memorable meal, I am sure.
I am bringing a huge bowl of my Caponata and my favourite rustic fig and anise bread over to Angie’s Fiesta Friday tomorrow. Come and join us at the best virtual blog party on the web!
While I have tried a couple of excellent recipes for Caponata, this recipe is from Bon Appétit‘s June 2015 issue. The dried cranberries and fennel added a sweet spiciness that I just couldn’t resist sharing with you.
Caponata with Fennel and Pine Nuts
2 globe eggplants (about 2 pounds), cut into ¾ inch pieces
2 tablespoons Kosher salt, plus more
1 small fennel bulb, cut into ¾ inch pieces
4 cups vegetable oil (I used only about 1 cup)
¼ cup pine nuts
¼ cup olive oil
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
2 Fresno chiles, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
¼ teaspoon paprika
1 cup crushed tomatoes
½ cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup sweetened dried cranberries
country-style bread, sliced
Toss the eggplant cubes with 2 tablespoons salt. Place in a colander and set over a bowl. Chill for 3-10 hours.
Place eggplant in a kitchen towel and squeeze out the excess liquid. Combine the eggplant, fennel and vegetable oil in a large, heavy pot. Set over high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplants are golden brown and the fennel is soft, about 20-25 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Let cool slightly.
Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, tossing often, until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium. Cook onions, chiles, and garlic, stirring occasionally until tender, but not browned, about 6-8 minutes. Stir in paprika and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, vinegar, and sugar and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
Add the cranberries, nuts, and eggplant mixture. Toss until heated through and glazed. Season with salt.
Let cool. Serve with the bread, crackers, cold meats or cheeses.