I have always loved to cook and create fun dishes for my family and friends. After marrying into a large Italian Family all of who are great cooks, it was so much fun learning the Italian way! Over the years I have experimented and some dishes were great and then some…..shall we say hit the pail quickly. I continue this passion for food and hope some of my ideas will be something you might want to try. I also like to read many recipes and then adjust the ingredients that I like,and that works for me and then go for it! One tip I have learned and will pass on to you, is on adding herbs to a dish. Whether fresh or dried, add a little at a time. It is also important to consider the texture of the herb and how it to will feel in your mouth. Many can be gritty if not broken down in a sauce or soup. My temptation is always for eye appeal, but ultimately have learned it is not only eye appeal but eat ability! LOL! The picture above is a caponata pie. Caponata is an Italian eggplant relish or chutney. A good friend of mine Anita who is from Italy had shared her recipe and actually made it with me the first time I made it. Remembering that day always brings back happy thoughts. She and her family were moving to Florida and literally with boxes all around us in her house I came over after shopping for all the ingredients and we whipped up a batch. I have always told my friends and family that was the best batch I ever made!
I usually make it and serve with with toasted bread or crackers, but this time decided to become a little festive for a party and used a 6inch spring form pan and made a pie. You would actually slice this after is is chilled as the filling must set up. I prefer Caponata cold but if you like it warm serve it as a dip and not in pie form. Here is my recipe……..enjoy!
4 to 6 cups eggplant cut in cubes
2cups onions chopped
2cups celery chopped
1 16 oz jar of sliced green olives with pimento
1 16 oz can of black olives sliced into rings
1/4 cup small capers and some juice about 2 teaspoons
1 can 28oz Hunts Crushed Tomatoes
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
Start by Cutting you eggplant into cubes and then putting some salt on them and then put them in a strainer or colander and fit a plate or bowl to sit inside directly on the eggplant. Next fill a pot or container with water that can sit on top of or in the bowl you have on the eggplant so it will weigh it down. The purpose is to extract the bitter taste that eggplants can have if there are a lot of seeds. I actually use a colander and then I have a plate that fits over the top that sits right on the eggplant. I weigh it down by filling a pot of water and then put the pot on top of the plate!
After you see some dark liquid coming from the eggplant rinse with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Next fry the eggplant in some olive oil (regular not extra virgin) and fry until golden. You don’t need a lot of oil as you want them to color and not absorb the oil too much. Next drain on paper towels and set aside. In the same pan sauté your onion till soft and translucent and set aside. I always steam my celery or you could do it in the microwave till its crisp tender about 10 minutes.
Next combine crushed tomatoes with the vinegar and sugar and heat for 10 minutes and then add the eggplant, onions, celery, both olives and capers and simmer for about 20 minutes. I don’t add salt or pepper as I want the flavors of the vegetables and olives to keep their peak and not break down because of salt. I also find pepper masks the sweetness of the vegetables as well.
I hope you try this recipe and enjoy with your family and friends!
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