03 August 2009

Mock Caponata

The thing about the CSA is that you end up with vegetables that you might not actually have bought if you saw them at the market. Like eggplant. I don’t love eggplant, but one came home the other day, along with a couple of zucchini and three different kinds of peppers and a mess of parsley and some other stuff.

But the eggplant. It sat there balefully in the fridge while I wondered what to make of it. Ha, I said, caponata – it would go well with the cold leftover steak we were going to have for dinner. I picked up the Campagna cookbook at 6:00 and instead of being dissuaded by the admonition that this "isn't one of those speedy weeknight dishes you can start cooking at 7:00 pm and have on the table at 7:30", I forged onward. Cookbooks, to me, are for inspiration - not for line by line instructions and specific measurements.

Guerrilla Mock Caponata

Dice an onion and toss it in a hot saucepan with some olive oil. Whack up a couple of peppers and toss them in – I used a sweet banana pepper, and a slightly spicy Mariachi pepper. Stir ‘em around a bit, then add a chopped eggplant and a chopped zucchini. Don’t bother salting the eggplant – who has time for that? Add a little tangy liquid – I used a couple of ounces of pomegranate juice – and slam a lid on the pot. Let it cook for a bit. Give it a stir, toss in a mess of chopped garlic, and add some more sweet and sour stuff. I used a tablespoon of pomegranate molasses, a splash of red wine vinegar and a dash of orange olive oil – along with a teaspoon of capers and a couple of tablespoons of chopped raisins. Cook, covered for a while longer, and then let cool to room temperature. Stir in some chopped parsley and serve. It’s a nice cross between a vegetable side dish and a condiment.

If I may say so myself, it was awfully tasty.

Most recipes for caponata will likely have celery and tomato and olives, and no zucchini – but to me, it's all about the sweet and tangy. I got there by using what I had around, but other things would work too - I thought of tossing in a blob of ketchup, or orange juice, or wine.

Oh, and start to finish? It took an hour, including 15 minutes on the stove unattended, and 15 minutes to cool.

13 comments:

needleinahaystack said...

if you get more eggplant, try the idea from Cook's Illustrated and roast it on the grill, mix w tahini and lemon juice and garlic etc for great babaganoush.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

That sounds incredible. I love eggplant.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

Do you have a recipe for currants and gooseberries? I got those last week, they're too tart to eat straight.

de said...

whew. My tongue kind of curdled when I read pomegranate molasses and raisins, but I hung in there and I'm sure it's great, especially with cold steak. Unfortunately, the cold steak is about the only thing I have on hand, but paired with some mushrooms that are too far gone to be eaten raw, we'll do all right.

I never bother with salting eggplant for any of the dishes I use it for (which are many; I love it), but probably in the same issue Needle referred to, Cook's Illustrated has a speedy microwave method my husband tried.

phd in yogurtry said...

Pomegranate molasses? Orange olive oil? Your cooking pantry must look like a Whole Foods market. Wow. I'm impressed.

And carponata? What is that? Does it mean veggie medley stir fry? Never heard of it (hanging head in shame).

I made eggplant parm yesterday, funny enough. I make my own sauce out of diced tomatoes, garlic, onion, parsley, etc. It was yummy tasty. This is the 2nd time I made it in the past few weeks. Prior to this? It had been, like, years. Why? I have no idea. Because I absolutely love that tangy eggplant flavor. Maybe I was thinking my husband didnt' like it, but he does.

Debbie said...

Good for you! I put our lonely eggplant on a pizza last night.

slouchy said...

oh! i adore eggplant.

abby said...

I totally agree with the babaganoush comment above. grill it or throw it in the oven at 400 for about 40 minutes. grill makes it smokey, oven keeps it sweet. and the tahini, lemon, oil and garlic are totally to taste. I love making this with cut up veggies and bread of some sort for a light, yummy meal. best when chilled.

and I also want to try what you did. thought I was the only one with pomegranate molasses wallowing in my fridge...

Elisa said...

You know what's also great to make with eggplant? Baba Ganoush. Or eggplant pasta sauce. Sautee the cubes with garlic and olive oil, add a splash of white wine, then add tomatoes and salt and let cook, then blend and add basil ribbons. Yum. And the eggplant is hidden ;-)

apathy lounge said...

Not a fan of the eggplant, I gotta tell ya, but your description makes it sound almost palatable. I'd definitely try it if I didn't have to make it.

The LIbrary Lady said...

Funnily enough, I have been thinking about posting a basic caponata recipe. Mine is Weight Watchers with some extra flavoring inspired by Nigella Lawson's recipe. The "sweet and tangy" is red wine vinegar and sugar heated together. Nigella uses some bitter chocolate too, though I haven't tried that yet.

I left some home in the fridge. Hope it will still be okay when we get home on Sunday!

nonlineargirl said...

Tangential, but still - did you see the NY Times article (Mark Bittman) on 101 salads? Totally worth checking out. I have made 3 of the salads and all were good, plus was fed two others that were good too. If you have not seen it, search their web site for 101 salads. Very useful for the csa cooking (several recipes had kohlrabi in them...).

Gwen said...

Eggplant: ugh. And ick. My mom used to boil it and make us eat it. Boiled eggplant, by the way, looks a whole lot like a slug. I love your recipe directions, though: smash and splash and whack. Sounds fun! :)