Caponata

From Jeanette's Healthy Living.

Adapted from Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen. I made a few adjustments to the recipe, including reducing the amount of oil used to saute the vegetables, using olive oil instead of vegetable oil, using white balsamic vinegar instead of white vinegar, substituting dried cranberries for golden raisins (that's what I had on hand), and toasting the pine nuts for more flavor. I also cut the vegetables into smaller pieces (1/2" versus 1"). This is best served at room temperature on top of crostini.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into 1" pieces
  • 1/4 cup cup olive oil
  • 1 medium eggplant, stem removed, cut into 1" cubes
  • 1 medium white onion, cut into cubes, about 1 1/2 cups
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 1/2 cup dried golden raisins (I used dried cranberries)
  • 1/4 cup pitted green olives
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon tiny capers, drained and rinsed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar (I used white balsamic vinegar)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (I used organic sugar)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves

Directions:

  1. Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Stir in red pepper and cook 1 minute. Drain thoroughly.
  2. Heat half of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until a cube of eggplant dipped in the oil gives off a lively sizzle. Add the eggplant cubes and fry, stirring and turning them so they cook evenly, until the eggplant is golden brown on all sides. Remove the eggplant with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a separate large skillet. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  4. Add the onion to the oil remaining in the pan and cook, stirring 1 minute.
  5. Stir in the celery and cook until the vegetables are wilted, about 5 minutes.
  6. Stir in the raisins, green olives, pine nuts, capers, and blanched pepper.
  7. Season with salt and pepper to taste and continue cooking, stirring, until the vegetables are soft but not mushy, about 10 minutes.
  8. Add the diced tomatoes and cook until they are softened, about 5 minutes.
  9. While the vegetables are cooking, make the sugar-mint syrup. Bring the vinegar to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the sugar and the mint, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until thick and syrupy, about 5 minutes.
  10. Pour the syrup into the skillet of vegetables and cook until the vegetables are very soft and juicy but not broken up, about 3-4 minutes.
  11. Finally, stir in the eggplant and zucchini and cook 1-2 minutes.
  12. Cool completely before refrigerating.