The Starky Test Kitchen is looking to “lighten up” our cooking this week. This does not mean, however, abandoning all sense of taste. Just the opposite is true; if you are looking to add more healthful content to your food, HUGE flavor ingredients are the answer. We settled on Eggplant Caponata, a versatile condiment that has been in our cooking arsenal for years. Caponata is our go-to recipe for an appetizer with pita, unforgettable when tossed with pasta & parm and works as a side dish under grilled fish or herb chicken The Italian inspired ingredients mingle together in the most playful way; It’s tough to stop snacking on this spicy stuff once you get going….oh, and everyone will want your recipe!
Here’s What the Sunday Chef is cooking this week:
Eggplant Caponata Recipe
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 whole medium sized eggplant…very firm with shiny purple skin
1 small onion, chopped finely
1 celery rib, chopped finely
1 zucchini , chopped finely
1 red bell pepper, chopped finely
2 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped finely
½ cup red wine (we use anything that’s a few days past drinkable)
1 cup tomato puree or finely chopped tomatoes (we used roasted cherry tomatoes)
½ cup green olives, chopped rough
½ cup Kalamata olives, chopped rough
2 Tablespoons capers
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/3 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
Optional but delicious: 2 Tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese for garnish over the top
“Mise en Place”: (meez-en-plahs). French culinary term that means “get all your ingredients prepped before you start cooking”. This is our mantra in the test kitchen and the restaurant; it really helps your cooking project run smoothly. We start with a hot sauté pan and a little extra virgin olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the eggplant and allow it to brown slightly (leave it alone for a few minutes and let it cook for goodness sakes!) Once the eggplant looks golden on the edges, add the onion, celery, zucchini, and red bell peppers and toss them a few times. Allow the veggies to sauté for 5 minutes until they are softened, stirring often.
Add the garlic and toss well. Immediately add the wine and stir to deglaze all the browned bits from your pan. Cook for a minute and add the tomato product or tomatoes. Turn the heat down to low and allow the mixture to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove the caponata from the heat and stir in the olives, capers, vinegar, pine nuts and herbs. Season the mixture with a generous sprinkling of kosher salt and fresh pepper. You can serve it warm with fresh bread or crackers, make it ahead and chill it for up to two days (bring to room temp before serving) or toss it with your favorite al dente pasta or with grilled meats. We love it with grilled swordfish or Halibut with a drizzle of olive oil and lemon. So many possibilities! So delicious! Get cooking, ya’ll and enjoy the process. Get Cooking, Everyone! Luv, the Sunday Chef