Caponata alla Siciliana

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Recipe in German at the end of the post / Deutsches Rezept im Anschluß.

Caponata seems to have enjoyed its own revival in recent years and is best enjoyed at room temperature which makes it a perfect prep-in-advance thing where its ingredients also benefit from a little more lingering. Fantastically versatile – excellent party fare, a great starter or appetizer, perfectly light but satisfying summer lunch, a side bursting with flavour or a nice autumn supper – this is an even more splendid end of summer dish.

Using the ripest aubergines and tastiest tomatoes, it embodies and transfigures all of summer’s lusciousness and warmth that is even more emphasized by the holy Sicilian agrodolce (sweet & sour) trinity: vinegar, raisins, pine nuts – a delicious result of the many Moorish influences on the Mediterranean cuisine, art & culture. No wonder, that moorish is also a synonym for everything utterly tasteful.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, I hope: There we are again after quite a hiatus was desperately needed following a crushing disappointment and lots of other creepy crawlies emerging out of the thick darkness when least needed (I am not talking about the gigantic black spider in the milk jug I doused in milk and still only half awake lifted to foam the milk only to crash all onto the counter and utter screams that would have made Hitchcock proud). Well, since my private persona is not of the stiff-upper-lip department or at least not as much as would be good sometimes, it takes a while to pull myself together and do something fun again. Sorry, if you feel like I am a bit evasive – which I am: I still need to figure out how much private stuff to share, where the line has to be drawn and additionally I have quite a horror of becoming utterly soppy and a terrible bore. So, we are picking ourselves up, commanding all the positive thinking and moving on.

 

More aubergine / eggplant dishes: delicious aubergine involtini, burnt aubergine & tahini dip  and other great salads: corn, tomato & basil salad, Ottolenghi’s baby spinach salad with dates, almonds & crispy flatbread, green asparagus, tomato & avocado salad, spicy carrot salad, Sonoma chicken salad, kale salad, a colourful & tasty lentil, leaf & labneh salad, a light Brussels sprout salad and a quick but gorgeous autumn slaw.

 

Caponata


Caponata alla siciliana

Serves 6-10

 

500g-600g aubergines (eggplant)
salt
50g raisins
250g mild onions
200g tomatoes, coarsely chopped or 1 small tin of cherry tomatoes with some of its juices
3 celery stalks (keep the green leaves for serving)
100g black or green olives (preferably buy unpitted)
olive oil
50g capers
50g pine nuts
1 bunch fresh basil, one half finely chopped (reserve the other half for serving)
1 red chile (Peperone) or red chilli flakes, Aleppo pepper etc.
5-6 tablespoons (75-90ml) red wine vinegar
1 pinch sugar
salt & pepper

 

Cut aubergines in small dice (1½ cm or ½ inch), generously sprinkle with sea salt, place in a colander and leave them for about 1 hour to drain the bitter juices. Soak raisins in warm water and cut onions into (not too thin) half moons. Chop tomatoes if using or open the tin, keeping tomatoes and juices. Divide the celery stalks into 2½-3cm (1 inch) pieces, extra points for pretty rhomboids and pit your olives if you want to avoid encountering a stone (I advise against buying pitted olives, their taste is inferior); if pressed for time, leave them in & warn your guests!

Rinse and dry the salted aubergines and fry batches of them in olive oil in a wide shallow pan over high heat until golden brown. Move the aubergines from the pan onto kitchen paper to drain excess oil before placing them in a bowl.

Reduce the heat and cook the celery in the same oil until tender but not too soft and decant into the same bowl as the aubergines. Again in the same pan (don’t panic, any browned bits left in the pan will add to the taste) lightly brown the onions, stir in a pinch of sugar and add raisins, tomatoes and (some of) their juices, olives, capers, pine nuts as well as half of the chopped basil, chilli and season with salt & pepper. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes over a low flame and stir now and then. Return the aubergine & celery dice to the pan, add vinegar and leave to slowly simmer for another 10 minutes. By then, the liquid should have mostly evaporated, check the seasoning, adding a little more vinegar, salt & pepper if needed and leave to cool to room temperature. Serve sprinkled with the other half of the basil (chopped right before serving) and chopped celery green to taste.

 

 

Caponata alla siciliana

 


Caponata

Für 6-10 Personen.

 

500g-600g Auberginen
Salz
50g Rosinen
250g milde Zwiebeln
200g Tomaten, grob gehackt oder 1 kleine Dose ganze Kirschtomaten und etwas von ihrem Saft
3 Stangen Bleichsellerie (Blätter zum Bestreuen verwahren)
100g schwarze oder grüne Oliven (vorzugsweise nicht entsteint)
Olivenöl
50g Kapern
50g Pinienkerne
1 Bund Basilikum, eine Hälfte erst später hacken
1 rote Peperone (Chili), Chiliflocken oder Pul piber
5-6 EL (75-90ml) Rotweinessig
1 Prise Zucker
Salz & Pfeffer

 

Auberginen in 1½ cm große Würfel schneiden, großzügig salzen und für ca. 1 Stunde in einem Sieb abtropfen lassen. Rosinen in warmem Wasser einweichen, die Zwiebeln in nicht zu dünne Halbmonde schneiden. Die Dose mit den Kirschtomaten öffnen und bereitstellen, Tomaten und etwas Saft werden verwendet. Bleichsellerie in ca. 3 cm große Stücke schneiden, es gibt Extrapunkte für schöne Rhomben. Oliven entkernen (bereits entsteinte schwarze Oliven können meistens geschmacklich nicht mithalten); unter Zeitdruck die Kerne in den Oliven lassen und die Mitesser warnen!

Die Auberginen waschen, trocken tupfen und (wenn nötig in mehreren Portionen) in einer großen Pfanne oder Schmortopf bei großer Flamme in Öl goldbraun braten. Anschließend die Auberginenwürfel auf Küchenpapier transferieren und das überschüssige Öl abtropfen lassen bevor man sie in eine Schüssel gibt.

Die Hitze reduzieren und die Selleriestückchen im verbliebenen Öl nicht allzu weich schmoren, dann zu den Auberginen in die Schüssel geben. Wiederum in der gleichen Pfanne (eventuell Olivenöl nachschenken & keine Panik ob der kleinen Überreste vom Schmoren der vorherigen Zutaten, genau diese tragen zum Geschmack bei) die Zwiebeln leicht anbräunen, dann eine Prise Zucker und die eingeweichten Rosinen hinzugeben, gefolgt von den Tomaten samt ein wenig Saft, Oliven, Kapern, Pinienkernen wie auch die Hälfte des Basilikums (gehackt). Mit Chili, Salz & Pfeffer würzen. Für ca. 10-15 Minuten leise bei niedriger bis mittlerer Temperatur köcheln lassen, von Zeit zu Zeit umrühren. Auberginen- und Selleriestücke sowie Essig zu dem anderen Zutaten in die Pfanne geben und weitere 10 Minuten köcheln lassen, die Flüssigkeit sollte dann weitestgehend verdampft sein. Abschmecken, bei Bedarf mehr Essig, Salz & Pfeffer verwenden und auf Raumtemperatur abkühlen lassen. Vor dem Servieren mit frisch gehacktem Basilikum (die andere Hälfte) und frischem gehacktem Selleriegrün nach Geschmack bestreuen.

 

 

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5 thoughts on “Caponata alla Siciliana

    • Amanda, thank you so much, you are always so kind and right: summer is dearly missed. The German Altweibersommer (old wives summer)= Indian Summer is in full swing and the sun is shining again like it never left. Got to go outside!
      Nxx

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