Caponata

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    Well, summer is quickly winding down and the kids are back in school.  Soon fall will be here and the air  will feel a little cooler.  But, for now, gardeners everywhere are still reaping the rewards of their labor in the form of tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers, etc.  This recipe is a great way to make use of all of those vegetables.

    Caponata is a Sicilian eggplant dish.  It’s like a cooked vegetable salad or relish done in agrodolce style, which is a very Sicilian thing.   Agrodolce simply means”sweet and sour” and is usually achieved by using a combination of vinegar and sugar.  It’s a very versatile dish, able to be eaten hot, cold, or at room temperature.  I love this as a topping for grilled bread, but it’s also delicious in a sandwich (plain or with Italian meats and cheeses) or alongside roast meat or fish or a fried egg in the morning.  There are many different variations of caponata, probably as many as there are cooks.  This one comes from Everyday Italian by Giada De Laurentiis.  I love it!

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Everyday Caponata (makes about 1 quart)

1/4 cup olive oil
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2″ cubes
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/2″ pieces
14 1/2 oz. can diced tomatoes with the juices
3 tblsp. raisins
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
4 tsp. sugar
1 tblsp. drained capers
1/2 tsp. salt (or more to taste)
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper (or more to taste)
Fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add the celery and saute until it’s crisp-tender, about 2 minutes.
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Add the eggplant and saute until it begins to soften, about 2 minutes.
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Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes.
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Add the red pepper and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.
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Add the diced tomatoes, raisins, and oregano.  Simmer over med.-low heat until the flavors blend and the mixture thickens, stirring often, about 20 minutes.
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Stir in the vinegar, sugar, capers, salt, and pepper.  Mix thoroughly and transfer the caponata to a bowl.  Garnish with basil leaves and serve, as desired.
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By the way, if you won’t use the full quart of caponata, just divide it into two pint-size mason jars and freeze one, or…..share one with the Italian next door.  🙂
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This was yummy on top of some fresh ricotta and grilled bread that had been rubbed with garlic and drizzled with some extra-virgin olive oil !
For printable recipe, click here.

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