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Eggplant Caponata

A grandmother's stew inspired from The Silver Spoon


The Silver Spoon is considered the encyclopaedia of Italian food, and obviously I have a copy. This recipe is inspired from a ‘Grandmother’s stew’ amongst its pages.

A caponata is a traditional dish of eggplants from the Sicily region. My recipe here is my variation, staying true to the spirit of Italian cooking with a little bit of a personal twist

Its a simple recipe, and makes a nice vegetarian main, served best with an nice crusty bread to soak it up. It can even act as a side to any roast meat or chicken.

Time

  • Prep Time : 15 minutes
  • Cook Time : 30 minutes
  • Active Time : approximately 30 minutes

Ingredients

  1. 500gms eggplant (Long Purple ones, or small ones. Not the big round ones)
  2. 1 large Capsicum (80gms)
  3. 1 small onion - chopped (½ cup approx)
  4. 1 large red chilli pepper seeds and all, (not the too hot variety)
  5. 1/2 cup and a scant more of sliced green olives
  6. 1 teaspoon of chopped capers
  7. 4 largish cloves of garlic - crushed and minced.
  8. 1 small can of tomato paste
  9. Couple of sprigs of fresh oregano or thyme
  10. Salt and black pepper to taste
  11. Olive oil

Method

  1. Dice the eggplant and put in a sieve.
  2. Liberally salt the eggplant and put a little weight on it to squeeze out some of the water
  3. Meanwhile roast the bell pepper over a open fire on all sides; remove and dunk it in cold water. You should then be able to peel off the skin. Remove the seeds and chop up into big dice, similar in size to the eggplant
  4. Heat a pan and when hot, add a splash of olive oil
  5. Brown the eggplant all sides in the oil, remove from pan and set aside.
  6. In the same pan, now add the onions and soften them over a low heat, we are not caramelising them, just softening them to remove the sharpness, so till they go translucent.
  7. Continuing on low heat, add the garlic, and let it soften, again , not browning just reducing the sharpness.
  8. Add the thyme / oregano and the remaining ingredients except the tomato paste. (Eggplant, bell pepper, chili pepper, olives, capers)
  9. If using dried oregano, don’t add it until step 11.
  10. Mix all the elements together and let it cook together.
  11. Add the tomato paste and a scant splash of hot water (there should not be any sauce, just enough for everything to coat the eggplant.
  12. After cooking for about 4-5 minutes ( you are looking for the eggplant to still maintain its shape, but to collapse with a slight pressure from a fork.
  13. Remove the stalks of oregano / thyme
  14. Check for seasoning, add salt and pepper. Do not add any more salt until this stage, as we have added a lot of salty ingredients, eggplant in the beginning and the capers and the olives.
  15. The oil will get released as well. Remove from the flame and serve.
  16. Serve with crusty bread or over a shorter pasta.

Tips

  1. This is one dish where I don’t recommend salting and seasoning often. The olives and capers have their own salt and will release it.
  2. Like most braises, stews and curries, this will be better the next day.

Eat in good health!