Thursday, January 15, 2015


I readily admit that veggies very seldom pop into my mind as a main course. It's not that I don't like them (well, except for beets and cauliflower), but I find it far more satisfying to work with the protein and starch elements.

My husband, on the other hand, really loves vegetables (except for lima beans) and gently suggests we see more of them on our plates on a regular basis.

So when I saw this recipe for Caponata, I realized it might be a great way to keep peace at Casa Wright.

If you're not familiar with Caponata, it's a bit like the Italian version of ratatouille, in other words a lovely medley of veggies that get to have fun with herbs and a light sauce. 

After looking the recipe over, I knew I could get just about everything at our local fruit/veggie markets. As an aside, one of the great things about the markets here is that you are able to buy just the amount you need, should you so desire. Only want one carrot, two stalks of celery, or a quarter head of lettuce or cabbage? Not a problem. 

Back to the Caponata. I decided to make the dish a day ahead, so all the flavors could become best friends. 

The first thing I did was to cube the eggplant and pot them into a pot of salted water for 20 minutes.

While they were doing their thing, I sliced the onions and peppers. 

Note #1: The only item I couldn't find were the red or yellow peppers. There are a few vendors that sometimes carry very small red peppers, but I've never seen any yellow ones (unless you grow them yourself). As a result, I used the standard variety green peppers.

Note #2: In order to keep as much of the eggplant submerged as possible, I placed a bowl on top of the pot. After slicing up the onions and peppers, they had a convenient home.

After the eggplant was finished with its salt bath, the cubes were drained, patted dry with some paper towels, and placed in a large roasting pan. (I reserved the salted water for a step coming up.) 

The eggplant cubes were then joined by the onions and peppers.

After drizzling olive oil over the mixture and tossing it all about, it was time to pop the pan into a pre-heated 400 degree oven for about an hour.

While the veggies roasted away, my next task was to chop and blanch the celery. I used some of the reserved salt water the eggplant soaked in. Why dirty another pot? As soon as the celery was done (about 5 minutes), it got put into an ice bath to stop the cooking process. 

Next up was to heat up some olive oil and throw in a sliced garlic clove. Once the garlic was brown, it got taken out of the pan. The tomatoes, sugar, and salt  were added to the pan, and I smushed the tomatoes up with a wooden spoon. That mixture cooked for about 10 minutes, then the vinegar got added in and everything cooked for a few more minutes.

In the meantime, the eggplant mixture was done.

I put the eggplant mix into a large pot, along with the celery, and capers. Gave it all a stir, then added the tomato sauce.

It smelled divine. 

For dinner the following night, I served the Caponata over a small bed of rice and garnished with chopped basil.

We loved the sweetness of the roasted veggies and the tomato sauce, along with the slightly salty/sour elements from the capers and vinegar. 

Served warm or at room temperature, this mixture also works very well over some toasted bread bits for an appetizer or just on its own. 

If you're a not a veggie lover, this dish could certainly change your mind.

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