How to make Caponata – a Puglian Vegan dish.

How to make Caponata

Vegetables are at the heart of southern Italian cooking. Every summer in Puglia, I walk past the many local traders on my daily walk to the beach, who sell fresh vegetables out the back of their fiat panda or on the side of the road on a fold out table. Everything from root veggies, large foliage greens, bright coloured peppers, sweet smelling tomatoes, fat deep purple aubergines and so much more, all grown on their local land. These veggies are organic as organic can be and at prices you could only wish to find in your local supermarket here in the UK. Its not a surprise that vegetables are such a key part of their Pugliese diet.

A great example of such cooking is ‘Caponata’ a beautiful collection of summer vegetables delicately combined together with dry oregano, a drop of acidity and a handful of olives. This dish is so versatile. It can be served as an antipasti dish, served on the side to complement a lovely slice of pan fried white fish or make it the hero of your dish. I recently discovered that serving this with a crunchy skinned jacket potato is a totally winning combination. Perfect cooking for vegetarian week.

[ingredients title=”Ingredients”]

  • Olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 courgettes, diced
  • 1 aubergine, diced
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 12-15 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tbsp black pitted olives
  • Pinch of dry oregano
  • Salt
  • White balsamic vinegar/white wine vinegar

[/ingredients]

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[directions title=”Directions”]

  1. First, drizzle and heat some olive oil in a pan. Fry the garlic and olive oil on a low/medium heat until softened.
  2. Add the courgettes and cook for a couple of minutes.
  3. Then add the aubergine and cook for a five minutes.
  4. Add the pepper. Cook all the vegetables until they have softened.
  5. Then add the tomatoes and cook with the other vegetables for 10 minutes
  6. When the vegetables have cooked, take the pan off the heat. Add the olives, oregano, salt and a few drops of wine vinegar.
  7. Allow the dish to reach to room temperature before serving.

[/directions]

 

Sicilian Aubergine Caponata

Caponata is a typical Italian dish with many versions from the country’s different regions. Therefore, the last recipe I have decided to cook from the new cook book ‘Sicily’ is a traditional Sicilian Aubergine caponata. It was utterly delicious and extremely easy to throw together. The key to a great tasting caponata is that it needs to be cooled down to room temperature after it has been cooked to really appreciate its full flavour. Perfect to eat it on its own with a slice of toasted bread or with pan fried white fish.

Sicilaian Aubergine Caponata
Sicilaian Aubergine Caponata

Ingredients (3-4 people)

2 aubergines, medium sized

Olive oil

Salt & Pepper

1 onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 celery stalk, chopped

Water

Chopped tomatoes, 1 tin

50g pitted green olives, chopped

2 tbsp capers

2 tbsp caster sugar

3 tbsp white wine vinegar

Pine nuts, toasted

Mint

Method

  • Pre-heat oven to 180c. Then dice up the aubergine, put into a roasting tin, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt & pepper & bake for 20 mins until browned. 
  • In the meantime, sweat down the onion & garlic in olive oil
  • Then add the celery, season with salt & pepper, add a little water to the pan. Cover the pan with a lid and cook on a low heat for 15-20 mins. 
  • At this point, add the chopped tomatoes, olives and capers and give it a good stir. Turn the heat up slightly and bring it to the boil. 
  • Art this point add the sugar, followed by the vinegar. Allow for the vinegar to cook and evaporate. 
  • Finally, add the roasted aubergine. Give it a good stir and let it cool down before serving.