Spring is an exciting time in the kitchen. Time to cut the cra—prepared foods and start using fresh ingredients again! Invited to a potluck, having friends over for dinner or just tired of your routine hummus and dip go-to? A vibrant composite of fresh veggies Caponata Melanzana is a favorite Italian side-dish, and can also be used as a sauce or dip. Mangia!
1 lb. eggplant, diced
1 large white onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 stalks celery, diced (with or without leaves)
4 plum tomatoes, diced
1 cup sweet pepper, diced
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tbsp. dry sherry
10-15 olives, depending on size (black or green), quartered
1 tbsp. capers
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt (to taste)
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tsp. sugar (optional)
1. Heat four tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil in a medium-to-large pan. Add eggplant and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and soft, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
2. Heat two to four tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil in the pan. Add onion and cook for six minutes or until soft and lightly golden, stirring frequently. Stir in garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add oil as needed.
3. Stir in celery and tomatoes for about eight minutes or to taste. Return the eggplant to the pan; stir until well combined. Add vinegar and sherry as you stir.
4. Stir to combine and cook for about 30 seconds. Stir in vinegar, salt and pepper, to taste.
5. Rinse capers. Stir in olives and capers for one minute. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in basil. Stir in salt, pepper, and sugar (optional) to taste.
6. Serve as a side dish or dip with bread, pita chips or serve on pasta as a sauce.u
Optional: let sit overnight (refrigerated) so the flavors can combine and settle more completely before serving.
***Makes about 5 cups