Monday, April 22, 2013

Make It Yourself Monday: Caponata!

As promised, here is a recipe tutorial! I was cooking this at my grandmothers house, and she was missing some key utensils, so bear with me here.

Caponata (closely adapted from this recipe, published in Vegetarian Living UK. Caponata is a Sicilian dish. It's basically a warm, hearty cooked salad. It's really delicious (and this is coming from someone who doesn't normally like eggplant!)

You will need:
2 heads garlic
2 large eggplants
2 stalks of celery
2 red onions
4 plum (or vine) tomatoes
1 tbsp capers
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp sugar
~16 large green olives (preferably 2 different fillings, ~8 of each)
2 tbsp olive oil
6 tbsp butter (3/4 of a stick, leave out to soften a bit)
1/2 a cup plus 1 tsp olive oil
2 tbsp fresh parsley
fresh basil leaves
pita bread

First, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Farenheit while you chop the eggplant, onion, tomatoes, and celery down to bite size, and slice the olives into smaller rings.

I recommend using a bigger plate for the eggplant mountain. By the time you've finished this, the oven should be preheated, which means it's time to get the garlic roasted. If you've roasted garlic before, this will be familiar--if not, it's a great thing to apply to all kinds of recipes (or just make plain to spread on bread or crackers)

Take one of the heads of garlic, and cut the top portion off, so the cloves are exposed. Repeat with the second head. They should look like this:

Next, take a piece of tin foil and crunch it up in a little bowl shape around the garlic, leaving plenty of extra at the top. Drizzle it in 1 tbsp of the olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. (If you decide to use this with another recipe, all kinds of herbs and spices are good--rosemary, thyme, anything lemon, to name a few). Wrap the foil completely over the garlic in a little package, and pop it in the oven. It should take about 40 mins, though I think it's fine up to an hour--set a timer for 40 to make sure it'll be done.

Put the remaining olive oil in a LARGE pan on stovetop and heat to medium. Add the eggplant and fry for 8-10 minutes or until golden (or just darker; I don't think eggplant gets very "golden"), stirring. It will start out like this:

 And end up like this:

Remove the eggplant from a pan with a slotted spoon (so that you don't take any remaining oil with it) and set aside on a plate. Add the eggplant and celery to the pan and sauté for at least 5 minutes--it needs to get soft and more translucent. 

Return all the eggplant to the pan. Add the tomatoes, olives, capers, red wine vinegar, sugar, and tomato paste to the pan. Stir it, bring it to a boil, cover it, and let it simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring on occasion to make sure the bottom doesn't burn. This is before. It will cook down and there will be more liquid, but I sort of forgot to take pictures until the end after this. When it's done, remove from heat and keep covered.

While the caponata cooks (set a timer if needed), take the garlic out of the oven and unwrap with mitts. Allow to cool. By the time the caponata is done, it will probably be cool enough. It should look like this, soft and anywhere from a golden brown to a darker brown. 

Squeeze the garlic cloves into a small bowl, and mash with a fork. Cut the butter into chunks, and mash it in. Stir/mash until thoroughly combined. Finally, chop 2 tablespoons of parsley (or use my method and snip off little bits with kitchen scissors and stir in. Tear one piece of pita per person in half, and toast pita. When it is done, spread garlic butter over the top of each slice. Serve the caponata with fresh basil leaves and grated parmesan, and buttered pita on the side. 

Enjoy! If you try it, please let me know how it turns out.