If pepperonata is a dish made with peppers as the main flavor, then caponata features one of my personal favorite ingredients. Those wonderful little salt bombs, stars of piccata everywhere, ladies and gentlemen put your hands together for…..capers!
I whipped up a quick caponata the other nite, featuring mini eggplants cut into 1” pieces, cauliflower florets ( fresh, not frozen) and a medium yellow onion cut into thick slices. Tossed with olive oil and a little pepper.
Out of the oven, I added more olive oil, some red wine vinegar, some parsley, capers, and kalamata olives along with some sliced mini roma tomatoes.
So many things you can do with it. Toss with fresh arugula and some lemon juice and large fresh croutons for a fattoush like salad, topped with crumbling of feta cheese and stuffed in a pita or wrap, or served over brown rice and topped with some golden raisins for a little sweet, the caponata is a master of disguises!
At just about this point, I was suppose to top each of these eggplant meatballs with some mozzarella cheese and brown them in the oven… whoops.
Still worth making again for a meatless Monday entree though…
Slice eggplant the long way, salt heavily and place in a colander for an hour to soften and get some water out. I then put my slices between some paper towels and a heavy weight for a few minutes for an extra oomph…
Brown the strips in a hot skillet with olive oil.
Toast some fresh bread crumbs with Italian seasoning and olive oil.
Pulse the charred eggplant with the bread crumbs and egg
Form mixture into meatballs ( yield for me was 12) and brown in skillet in olive oil. I then added marinara sauce and simmered as I showed above, but then was supposed to finish with the cheese.
To serve I sautéed spinach with garlic and made some brown rice. I also think you could add ground walnuts to the veggie meatballs to get you an extra hit of protein!
So the flip side of the coin was a tomato eggplant gratin which is a cinch to put together. From the Cooking section of the New York Times last week, it is a versatile and forgiving dish with enough zip to make it taste like an entree.
Start with yellow and red grape tomatoes with seasoning as indicated and oil. I had the last of our truck farm tomatoes to use up. Thanks to 90 days of sun, they held on till the end! Peel and chop the eggplant and toss with tomatoes. Then mix shredded mozzarella with panko, basil, more seasoning and olive oil. Mix half of panko with the tomato/eggplant and put into roasting/casserole pan. Add tomato purée and to with the remainder of the seasoned panko.
Side dish on Sunday and entree on Monday!
Cute animated GIFs courtesy of Bazaar Magazine. Personally, I’m fond of the self sipping ice coffee and the macaron stack..on the App Store
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Two new and notables from Trader Joes. Excellent pickled cauliflower, but I have to say the yield is uncharacteristically stingy on the part of TJs. The eggplant is smoky and smooth and perfect as a part of summer suppers with bread and wine, maybe a little dish of olives on the side…
I whipped up a sort of mezze platter for us for meatless Monday this week.
I started by charring the heck out of these teenage size eggplants, because they weren’t quite baby size. While the grill was going we also did some long slices of zucchini and some baby sweet peppers.
I peeled the blisters off the peppers and added some olive oil, smoked paprika, and about a quarter cup of hot vegetable broth and whazzed it up with the stick blender. Just a few seconds yields a sweet, smoky sauce. Add sautéed spinach, some oily black olives, capers for garnish, some feta cheese and a little squeeze of lemon to brighten everything up!
A sad looking zucchini that was even sadder when I started slicing and two lonely mini eggplants?
Why make a ratatouille tart of course!
I started with aforementioned sad zucchini and lonely eggplants sliced as thin as my thinny, thin, thin knife could go and then sauteed them in a pan with some onions. I quartered four Campari tomatoes and opened the jar of sunny roasted peppers I had in the fridge. I also mixed a beaten egg with some light cream and set aside. While all this was happening I was blind baking a premade pie crust in my tart pan in a 375° oven for about 12 minutes. Nicely browned.
Once the veggies are soft and caramelized in the olive oil in the skillet, I added salt and pepper and the jarred roast peppers to the mix. I put the veggies in the baked and cooled tart shell and poured the beaten egg in the crust. It shouldn’t be all egg, but should just be holding the vegetables in place. I sprinkled some shredded mozzarella on top and little dabs of goat cheese. Lastly I put the tomatoes in middle. Into the 375° oven again for about 20 minutes. Then I turned the broiler on for about 6 minutes to give the cheese a extra measure of bubbly and melty ( remember the two dwarfs that no one ever talked about….) . I served the tart, cut into fours, on a bed of fresh arugula dressed with olive oil, my new favorite balsamic, and some salt and pepper! Perfect for meatless monday, which we almost did, but then our friend A was over for a work dinner for us and I added some Barramundi at the last minute!
Well I had a handy eight pack of eggplants that had been hanging around for a while and while creating the grocery list this afternoon, I also found a couple of Italian sausages…hmmm, says I.
So I cut the washed eggplants in half and tossed them in olive oil and some salt and pepper. The Hubs put them on the grill and proceeded with his cocktail and scouting of backyard wildlife. I directed “char the s_ _ _ out of them” While he did the aubergines, I browned the sausage with some basil and garlic. Once cooked, I spun it once or twice in the cuisinart and added toasted panko. See?
Here’s the aubergines, fresh off the grill.
Nicely charred as directed. Then I flipped them cut side up and layered the sausage/breadcrumb mixture all over. I added some torn mozzarella and grated Parmesan and bopped it back in the grill to get all melty…
You can scoopy doop out the inside of the eggplant , now mixed with sausage and cheese. Oh and there were two really hot peppers in there for flavor only!
Remember these from over the weekend? Thought I’d update you on what went where…I used the onions in the roast pork loin stuffing for Sunday nite. Tonite I used the roasted tomatoes, as expected in a batch of roasted tomato soup.
But then I got really inspired with the little roasted eggplants.
Mini eggplants = mini paninis!
Start with sliced French bread from the batch of baguettes I baked on Saturday.
Then I reheated the roasted eggplants in a skillet.
And while they got warm and the soup cooked, I layered up som prosciutto, provolone, and the eggplant halves and made sandwiches!
I melted some butter with some basil and put the sandwiches on to toast.
Here’s our yummy component dinner…
Now I just need to do something with the peppers!