The Veggie-Packed Mediterranean Condiment You Should Be Making To Go With Anything
Caponata is a traditional Sicilian dish that's primarily made of eggplant—sort of an Italian version of French ratatouille. Served as a side dish in some cases or as a sort of condiment in others, it is evocative of quintessential Mediterranean cooking. The highlights are, of course, the fresh vegetables, but there's also olive oil, garlic, balsamic, olives, and capers.
This version of caponata comes from the kitchen of Ellen Ecker Ogden, who co-founded The Cook's Garden seed catalog, authored six books on kitchen garden design, and attended cooking school in Italy and Ireland. The recipe is featured in her new book The New Heirloom Garden. "A condiment made with eggplant and other summer vegetables, this recipe makes a large portion," she explains, "any extra can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days."
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing
- 2 red onions, preferably Red Torpedo, cut into ½-inch dice
- 1 eggplant, preferably Black Beauty, peeled and cut into ¾-inch cubes
- 1 zucchini, preferably Costata Romanesco, cut into ¼-inch-thick rounds
- 1 large fennel bulb, preferably Florence, sliced
- 2 celery stalks, sliced
- 1 large red bell pepper, preferably Marconi Red, cut into ½-inch dice
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup coarsely chopped pitted oil-cured black olives
- ½ cup tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 1 fresh oregano sprig, leaves finely chopped
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly oil a large roasting pan and add the onions, eggplant, zucchini, fennel, celery, and bell pepper. Mix the ½ cup oil and the garlic in a measuring cup and drizzle it over the vegetables; sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Roast, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are barely tender, about 30 minutes.
- Whisk the vinegar, olives, tomato paste, capers, and oregano in a large bowl to dissolve the tomato paste. Pour this over the vegetables in the roasting pan and gently stir with a wooden spoon.
- Continue to roast, stirring occasionally, until all the vegetables are soft and tender, about 30 minutes more.
- Remove the pan from the oven and allow the vegetables to cool to room temperature in the pan. Taste and season generously with more salt and pepper. Stir before serving as a side dish or on toasted crusty bread as an appetizer.
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