Sunday, June 1, 2008

Caponata (Eggplant Appetizer)

My friend Stephanie and I both love ethnic food as do our husbands. So we decided long ago to put the names of different countries in a basket and take turns drawing a name and then cooking an entire meal from that country.

This past Saturday night was my turn and I had Italy as the country. Now, I could of taken the easy way out and made spaghetti and meatballs but I know Stephanie would never let me live it down! ;-) So I did a bit more complicated fare.

We had caponata with water crackers, pasta al forno, homemade Italian bread and bitter greens salad with roasted beets and orange vinaigrette.

I thought I'd share the caponata recipe with you. I've had it before out of a can and I thought this turned out much better. Not everyone is an eggplant fan but I personally love it.

First you peel and cube 3 small eggplant. Put in a colander and sprinkle with salt and let sit for 30 minutes.
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In the meantime, chop 3 small onions, mince 2-3 garlic cloves, and chop 2 stalks of celery.
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Saute the onion, garlic and celery in 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
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Add 1 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes.
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Cook an additional 10 minutes or until the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is thick.

Rinse the salt from the eggplant and pat dry. Add 1/4 cup of olive oil to a pan and heat until hot. Add the eggplant. Cook until the eggplant is tender and turning golden brown.
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Meanwhile set aside 1/4 cup of chopped parsley, 1/4 cup of capers, 1/2 cup sliced black olives and 1/4 cup wine vinegar.
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Add the eggplant to the tomato mixture along with the rest of the ingredients and cook on low for another 10 mintues. Add salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste.
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Let come to room temperature before serving. Place in a serving bowl and surround with garlic toast, crackers or bread.
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Enjoy!