Caponata! As well as its deliciousness I also love the rhythm to the word Cap-on-ah-ta! I also wonder if this Italian aubergine based stew could also be the name of an Italian dance like the Tarantella – or maybe the dancers just eat a large plate of caponata after dancing? Or maybe I have an overactive imagination – but do listen to some Tarantella music to get you in the mood for cooking and eating caponata!
I think the secret to aubergines is that they need cooking for far longer than you think. They need time to reduce and gain their lovely smokey full flavour, I cooked them for at least 20 minutes, until they had reduced by about 2 thirds and were charred and soft (and my smoke alarm had gone off twice). Aubergines soak up oil like a sponge seemingly regardless of how hot the pan is, I just used a tiny amount of oil and kept them moving whilst frying them. I do salt my aubergines and leave for 20 minutes before cooking them but many people do not think that it is necessary as most of the bitterness has been breed out of modern varieties. Once the aubergines are ready then the rest of the caponata is easy and quick to put together, use whatever colour of peppers you have and add capers, pine nuts and olives to taste. I completely forgot the olives and put an extra amount of capers in.
- 2 medium aubergines - diced and salted for 20 minutes - then rinsed well
- 1 medium onion - medium chopped
- 3 gloves garlic - roughly chopped
- 1 red pepper - sliced
- 1 orange pepper - sliced
- 1 tin tomatos
- 1 tbs white wine vinegar
- 1 tbs sugar
- 1 tbs capers
- 1 tbs toasted pinenuts
- glug olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Fry the aubergine until it has reduced by about 2/3rds. This will take about 20 minutes, as aubergine soaks up oil like a sponge use a good non stick pan and keep it moving, when ready it should look like the photo.
- Meanwhile fry the onion and garlic until soft, add the pepper and cook for a few more minutes, add the tomatos, charred aubergine, white wine vinegar, sugar and capers. Cook for about 5 minutes. Stir through the toasted pinenuts just before serving.
- Serve with crusty bread to mop up the juices. This also tastes far better reheated the next day.
You are so right about aubergines needing longer than you think to cook. Gets me every time. And under-cooked eggplant is a *very* disappointing thing. Lovely recipe Helen.
Oh yes, and I’ve been experiencing some weirdness with your RSS feed in the last week. According to my feedreader there’s an error each time it tries to connect to your blog. Not sure if anyone else has mentioned the same problem and of course it may be me . . . but just thought I’d let you know!
It is showing up in Google Reader OK. I’ll have a look.
the caked crusader
A properly cooked, soft and flavoursome aubergine is a thing of beauty – yum!
Wonderful! I’ve been experimenting with similar flavours lately. I discovered that if I slice an eggplant in half, lay it in an oiled baking sheet (flesh side down) and bake it for a good long time, the eggplant gets wonderful soft. I then make an olive and caper sauce similar to yours and serve it on top. I like your idea of putting the eggplant IN the sauce, though. This would go great with polenta!
As the Caked Crusader said a properly cooked aubergine is a thing of beauty. I have a few ideas for an aubergine pasta sauce, just need to work the final flavours.