Friday, 13 August 2010

Caponata, crackling and cake


Since I was very young, the mishmash of late summer vegetables that is ratatouille has been atop my list of food favourites; a cast iron pot of soft yielding courgettes, rags of stewed tomato and slow cooked onion instils a nursery-style comfort. I cannot get enough of it and it screams August.

Until embarrassingly recently I was unacquainted with its sassy Italian cousin, Caponata. A ‘grown-up’ version of the Provençal vegetable stew, it contains the more sophisticated capers and olives which lend a savoury slap round the chops, whilst the vinegar sounds a sharp ring-a-ding on the back of the tongue. It is the perfect summer accompaniment, which last night played best supporting role to a loin of pork slow roasted in fennel, garlic and chilli (for 22, naturally).

Happy Birthday BSG, Happy Birthday blog!


I got this recipe from Katie Caldesi, though there are all sorts of variations.

This one serves 4.

4 medium aubergines, chopped

salt and freshly ground black pepper

3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

1 onion, chopped

2 celery sticks, chopped

400g/14oz chopped tomatoes

100g/3½oz green olives, pitted and sliced

3 tbsp capers, drained and chopped

30ml/1fl oz red wine vinegar

1½ tbsp sugar, or to taste

handful flat leaf parsley, chopped

extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Sprinkle the aubergines with salt and leave to drain in a colander for 30 minutes.

Heat some of the olive oil in a saucepan and brown the aubergine on a moderate heat for 10 minutes.

When cooked, set aside and allow to cool, to room temperature.

In a separate saucepan, heat the remaining olive oil and sauté the onion along with the celery and tomatoes, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Add the olives and cook for 20 minutes. Add the cooled aubergine and the capers.

In a separate bowl, mix together the red wine vinegar and sugar. Add this to the pan and cook for 10 minutes. It is ready when the red wine vinegar has been absorbed.

Transfer to a large bowl, add the chopped parsley and mix well.

Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil to serve. Serve hot or cold.

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