I love making fresh summer recipes with my homegrown fruits and veggies and you can too, whether they are from your backyard, the local farmer’s market, grocery store or the neighbor next door. I try and create fresh lighter dishes in the warmer weather and utilize what this season has to offer, especially in this recipe for Garden Caponata.
I start by cutting up some standard ingredients in a traditional caponata like; eggplant, celery, onions and garlic, but what really adds flavor is using a variety of tomatoes and peppers. I used my Green Tiger Striped Tomatoes and my Big Beef Tomatoes for fresh sweet flavor and I added in a few Cherry Tomatoes for a hint of tartness and texture to the recipe, but any fresh tomatoes will do. Peppers are also key in a good caponata, so I took the nontraditional route and used a Red Thai Chili, which adds a little heat.
Garden Caponata is great served warm, room temperature or chilled. You can spoon it over grilled bread, as I did in this recipe or serve it over pasta, chicken or fish. It stores nicely for outdoor entertaining or picnics too.
1 medium eggplant or 2 Japanese eggplants
2 stalks celery
1/2 red onion
2 cloves garlic
2 cups fresh tomatoes, any variety
1 red, orange or yellow bell pepper
1 Thai chili
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
2 teaspoons fresh chives
2 teaspoons fresh oregano or parsley
2 tablespoons tomato paste, double strength if possible
1/3 cup white wine
2 tablespoons capers
(Serves 8 appetizer portions or 4 entrees size)
1. Slice up the celery and dice the eggplant and onion. Mince the garlic finely. Here is a sampling of some of the veggies I picked today.
2. In a large saute pan, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and add the onion, eggplant, celery and garlic. Turn the heat to medium and saute for 5 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and continue cooking for 3 minutes.
3. Dice up the tomatoes, Thai chili and pepper while the mixture is cooking.
5. Add the tomatoes, Thai chili and red bell pepper to the eggplant mixture and stir to combine. Continue to saute the mixture for 6 minutes.
6. Chop the fresh herbs and add them and the chili flakes to the caponata.
7. Next, add the tomato paste and white wine and stir to combine. Continue cooking the caponata for 5 minutes, so the wine can reduce.
8. Add the capers with the brine and continue to cook for 3 minutes or until the vegetables are soft, but not mushy. Add a little black pepper and more salt if necessary.
8. Serve with grilled bread, over pasta or as a sauce with your favorite protein. You can serve this as an appetizer too! Enjoy!