advice on caponata
it may seem intensive to salt the eggplant for a couple of hours, and sure it does take some forethought to do so, but that step is crucial to removing the bitterness of the eggplant. i like to buy whatever heirloom eggplant i can get my hands on. the candy stipe purple and white ones are especially tasty but you could also use the thinner japanese eggplant.
caponata toes the line between appetizer and light summer dinner. add in some sliced bread, a lightly dressed salad and you stand to be satiated. i haven't done so yet, but i think you could toss the caponata with some pasta and parm and be equally happy.
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the way to go
2 heirloom eggplants (about 1lb total), chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 tbsp salt
1 small fennel bulb, sliced into 1 inch pieces (reserve some fennel fronds for garnish)
1 cup of vegetable oil
2 tbsp of pine nuts
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 shallot slined thin
2 red chilis (or mini red bell peppers)
1 garlic clove, sliced thin
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 cup of sherry vinegar
1 tbsp of sugar
1/2 cup fresh chopped tomato (or crushed tomatoes)
2 tbsp of sultanas
parsley for garnish (optional)
basil for garnish (optional)
crusty bread for serving
first toast the pine nuts in a small pan until golden brown, take off heat and set aside. then place chopped eggplant in a colander over a large bowl and toss with salt. chill for at least 3 hours. next remove excess moisture from the eggplant pieces by wringing them out in a clean kitchen towel. then in a large sautee pan over medium-high heat cook eggplant and fennel in the vegetable oil until eggplant is browned and fennel is softened, about 15-20 minutes. transfer eggplant and fennel to a paper towel to drain. In a medium sized sauce pan over medium-low heat add olive oil and cook shallot, chili, and garlic until translucent and soft. stir in paprika, vinegar, sugar, and tomato. bring to a boil for a minute or two and then remove from heat and add pine nuts and sultanas. then add in the drained eggplant and fennel and toss to coat. let the caponata come to room temperature and garnish with chopped parsley, basil and fennel fronds. serve with bread.