Tuesday, September 21, 2010

caponata--a Sicilian aubergine relish

In case I ever run out of new things to try--ha!--I have joined a blogging group called The Velveteers. There were four of them to begin with, and they started by re-inventing red velvet cake. Now, several months later, Alessio, Aparna, Asha, and Pam have opened their ranks to new members, and I rushed in! Each month they try something new--an ingredient, or a theme--and each person is supposed to interpret it slightly differently.

Caponata was this month's chosen recipe. Since it's completely new for me I decided to try a faithful version of this traditional Sicilian dish. Caponata is made with aubergine (or eggplant, as it's known to others) seasoned with capers, tomatoes, and olives. It can be used warm or cold as a relish or a side dish. I chose to serve it with snapper fillets and soda bread for our dinner one day. I made one adjustment for my circumstances and household: there is no use even trying to feed my husband anything that has celery in it. So I swapped this out for some thinly sliced Chinese (napa) cabbage. No, not a traditional substitution! But at least Chinese cabbage is crunchy and mild as celery is.

serves 2-3 as a main dish, and could be used as a relish or side dish
adapted from The New Canadian Basics Cookbook

250 g (2 small) aubergines
2 T oilve oil
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
150 g Chinese cabbage (or celery), thinly sliced
3/4 c crushed tomatoes
2 t capers
1 t rasins
8 olives
salt and pepper
basil leaves

Heat the oven to 350 F (180 C). Prick the aubergines all over with a fork. Place in an oven-proof dish and roast for 30 to 45 minutes, until soft.
Cut the aubergines in half and leave until cool enough to handle.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a pan. Add the onion and Chinese cabbage and heat gently until soft, about 10 minutes.
Add the crushed tomatoes, capers, rasins, and olives. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.
Chop the flesh of the aubergines and discard the skin. Add the aubergine flesh to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Cook though to warm the aubergine. Garnish with basil leaves.
Serve as an accompaniment to fish or meat, with pasta, or on bread or crackers.

The 4 Velveteers was started by Alessio, Aparna, Asha, and Pam, who are passionate about different cuisines and food in general. Each month, we will attempt a new dish and share our experiences and the recipes we used.

If you're interested in joining the Velveteers, please feel free to drop by our Google group.

Do check out what the other Velveteers have created by visiting their blogs. (And I'll update the list here as new posts come in.)
--Aparna's Eggplant and Fig Caponata
--Veena's Sicilian Caponata made with bell peppers
--Ken's Caponata Jam and Olive Oil Financiers, beautiful appetisers
--Asha's Sicilian caponata with z'atared lavash crackers
--Madhuli's caponata with harissa paste, based on an Ottolenghi recipe


The Cooking Ninja said...

Woohoo! Welcome on board the 4 Velveteers! Your dish looks smashing. I'm going to do mine tomorrow. Hopefully I'll survive the Singapore heat in my mom's kitchen.

Aparna Balasubramanian said...

Wow! Looks very inviting. Made mine but will try to post tonight or tomorrow.
Welcome to the group. Hope you'll have as much fun as wedo. :)

veena said...

Wow!! looks so inviting Just posted mine too:-)

Sarah said...

Aparna, what a great idea to use figs. And Veena, yours looks great; well done! I'm so glad I joined the group.

Anonymous said...

What a great idea! The Velveteers! I think that is just fantastic. And this recipe looks SO delicious!

Sarah said...

rosemarried, perhaps you would like to join us?? :) Just visit our Google group and sign up!

Anonymous said...

Oh, Sarah, I would love to! I'll sign up at your google group later (when I'm not at work!). Thanks!!!

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