Beloved has become a Sunday morning Food Network junkie. Well, at least on the Sunday mornings there isn’t anything that catches his attention on Turner Classic Movies, anyway.
Me? Not so much. A lot of what the Food Network shows on Sunday mornings irritates me; if the “personalities” don’t, then the methods of preparation do. In fact, now that I think about it, most of what the Food Network shows irritates me these days. So you can only imagine my reaction when Be came to me and said, “I saw some woman make the most delicious looking dish on the Food Network! It was some Italian thing* with eggplant and zucchini.”
Let me just say that it was not entirely the Food Network that turned me off of making this – he said two other words that made me cringe: Italian and eggplant.
Sorry. Not a fan of either. To say nothing of the capers I later discovered were in it. Or the fennel.
But after he mentioned it several times a day and bought an eggplant at the farmers market, I decided what the heck – I’d give it a try.
So I did. I have to tell you, I liked it a lot more than I thought I would, and Be devoured it.
*Modified from Anne Burrell’s recipe
6 to 8 servings
1 large eggplant, peeled, alternating with 1-inch strips of skin left on, cut into 1-inch dice
1/2 to 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 to 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 large red onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 fennel bulb, cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 ribs celery, cut into 1/2-inch dice
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 red and 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup water
6 oz. can tomato paste, preferably organic
1 tablespoons sugar, Splenda or sucanat
1/2 cup red wine – I used a Cabernet Sauvignon
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
1/4 cup pine nuts
Preheat the oven to 400º F.
In a large bowl, toss the eggplant generously with olive oil and salt. Spread out on a baking sheet and roast until the eggplant is soft, about 15 to 20 minutes. Reserve.
Coat a wide deep pot with olive oil – I used my 4 quart enameled cast iron Dutch oven. Toss in the onion and crushed red pepper. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and aromatic, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Add the fennel, celery and garlic and cook for 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the peppers and cook for an additional 5 to 6 minutes. Add the zucchini, season with salt, to taste, and cook until the vegetables are soft and starting to come together as a stew. Toss in the roasted eggplant, water and the tomato paste; add the wine and sugar, Splenda or sucanat and continue cooking until the liquid has mostly been absorbed. Stir in the raisins, capers and pine nuts. Cook for another 5 to 6 minutes.
We served this immediately, over sausage-stuffed peppers, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese; it wasn’t until later that I discovered you’re supposed to serve caponata as a side dish at room temperature. It was still delicious.