Saturday, August 27, 2011

Recipe: Caponata

I almost feel like I am doing something sacrilegious right now by posting a recipe up on my blog during (gasp!) daylight hours. Hint: the Universe did get through to me with that message of "Slow Down! Slow Down!" (I think the CAPS were needed). I will fill you in on how that happened as I reign in, process, and then coalesce events and my thoughts. In the meantime, part of the message of 'slow down' is cooking again and sharing my love of locally grown food and eating (yes, another part of the message was EAT! - caps were also needed here).

So tonight my husband and I are giving up more of those precious summer daylight hours needed for farm work to go to a neighborhood party. I am taking one of my all-time end of summer recipes that uses local vegetables in season right now. Eek - guess what? I didn't even check until right now to see if I had also posted this recipe on my blog in addition to being on my website. (I remember years ago when I heard my boss/friend tell a doctor at the hospital where I worked that "Diana's brain is usually 2 miles ahead of what is coming out of her mouth" - aha! more insight here, right now - writing is also good for slowing me down!) Nope, whew, this recipe has not yet made the transfer over, so today is a perfect day to do just that.

Caponata is a variation of Ratatouille, served cold with crackers, baguette slices, or just a spoon (my favorite way to eat it is right out of the bowl!). I am going to post the original recipe, but note that the recipe is very flexible. Today I didn't have any olives on hand, so I didn't add them, but I did add a full teaspoon of salt instead. I used Chesok Red garlic (6 small-medium cloves) as this variety wins contests all the time for holding its flavor with cooking. I also added some spicy peppers - woohoo!

My only photo is the one of it simmering in the pot. I always make the full recipe, even for a small party because I enjoy eating it all week long, and in the rare case that I get tired of it, any remaining mixture can be frozen and added to any future stir-fry or soup or even served right over baked fish.

So here goes! I hope you run right out to your own garden or down to your local farmers' market to round up these locally-grown organic vegetables, garlic, and fresh herbs to make this recipe and then share it with your family or at a gathering.

• 2 small or 1 large eggplant (~1-1/4 lbs.) - unpeeled, cut into small cubes (dark purple or white eggplant works although a purple eggplant will give more color to the final dish if you do not use black Kalamata olives)
• 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
• 1 red sweet pepper, seeded and chopped (I added a fresh slightly spicy Italian pepper and a small piece of roasted jalapeno pepper found in my freezer)
• 3-6 ripe tomatoes (about 4 cups worth), chopped (may use 1-28 oz. can diced tomatoes)
• 1/2 cup chopped olives (green or pitted Kalamato - do not use plain black olives from a can)
• 3-6 cloves garlic, minced
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
• 1-1/2 teaspoon dried basil (triple if using fresh herbs)
• 1-1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (triple if using fresh herbs)

• Combine all chopped ingredients in a large soup pot, mix well.
• Bring to simmer and cook uncovered for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally (I'm doing that while writing out this post - so yes, I'm 'double-dipping' with my time but I could also be folding laundry, a much better non-daylight hour job!).
• Cool to room temperature.
• Serve in a pretty bowl surrounded by whole grain crackers or whole grain baguette slices. (Save the spoon for later after the party if there are any left-overs!)

(Photo: Caponata, just starting to simmer in a large soup pot, steam rising!)
I forgot to add what else I am doing, so I guess I am 'triple-dipping' with my time. :-) While having my lap-top computer in the kitchen, open to the Caponata recipe on my website, I am also listening to the past radio shows from The Thistle & Shamrock, my favorite program that I have missed hearing all summer long. Hey there, Universe, I have heard your message 'slow down'. Thanks, beyond thanks, for being persistent with me. :-)

Yes, there is more to follow. I envision 4 installments: 1) The Universe calling Diana (done and posted), 2) Diana's thoughts and blocks/side-tracks, 3) Wham-bam!, 4) Diana back again listening and acting on #1, re-looking at her motto at the top of her blog and her sign-off (how did I miss it?). Hang in there with me!

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"

Diana Dyer, MS, RD


Debi said...

I took everything out of the garden before the Hurricane came through. I had to leave about 3 baby eggplant, but picked the others, so I have everything needed to make this recipe. Love the Kale blog too. I'm reading through the rest of your posts. There's some interesting stuff in here. Debi

Kateri said...

I have learned that if I don't have time to cook real food, then something else in my life needs to give. (I've quit jobs twice because of this.) Glad to hear you are taking time to stop and cook again. :)

I have all the ingredients for this recipe in my garden right now. (minus the olives). I may just have to make it tomorrow!