Sometimes, you will find some Italian recipes popping up in my blog which is initially dedicated to French cuisine. Don’t be surprise: I lived in Sardinia for a couple of years and I married an Italian who also happens to be a fine cook. Italian gastronomy is part of our daily life, it is my second food language. It so rich and tasteful that I couldn’t help to share with you some specialties such as the caponata.
Make no mistake: French and Italian gastronomies are very different and I am still struggling to understand the so-called “european” or “mediterranean” restaurants here in Chicago, mixing French, Italian, Spanish, Greek and Croatian food all-in-one. It makes no sense. It would be the exact same thing to open an American restaurant in Europe serving on the same menu chicken waffles, putin, ceviche and burrito!
For this first Italian recipe, I’ve chosen my signature dish. The one all our guests are being served when they come home for the first time: la caponata siciliana. 100% Italian approved!
For 4 servings:
It seems a lot of ingredients at first sight, but most of them are probably already in your pantry.
- 2 small eggplants (about 1.3 lbs)
- 1 celery stalk
- 1/2 medium onion
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 tbsp capers
- 4 tbsp purple olives (the very best are the olive taggiasche. Very expensive here in the US and hard to find. I am replacing them by the kalamata olives.)
- 1 tin can (14 oz) of chopped peeled tomatoes with no additive (Mutti has good products)
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- 4 basil leaves
- last but not least: 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Chop the eggplants in 1 inch cubes. In a non-stick pan, pour the olive oil and fry the eggplants in it when it is hot enough. You should hear the frying sound. Make them fry for about 10 minutes, stirring from time to time. When all eggplants cubes are perfectly golden and tender, set them aside in a plate.
- While the eggplants are frying or once they did – it depends of your ability to multitask – chop the onion, celery and peel the garlic clove. Put them all in the same non-stick pan you’ve used for frying the eggplants keeping the same oil. Fry until the onions are golden brown.
- Add capers, olives, and chopped tomatoes, a pinch of salt and the eggplants. Let reduce on medium heat for about 5 minutes stirring repeatedly.
- Mix in a cup the vinegar and caster sugar. Pour the mixture into the pan. Let cook for one more minute stirring constantly. Turn off the heat. Chop the basil leaves and stir them into your caponata.Even if you can enjoy this dish while it is still warm, it is tastier when it becomes cold. I recommend you the eat the caponata with a grilled slice of bread drizzled with olive and or fresh goat cheese.