November 4, 2010

Italia via Caponata

I have something to tell you that may shock you.  It's not actually shocking, but the look on people's faces when I tell them would seem to imply otherwise; I don't have cable.  That's right.  No.  Cable.

Have you picked yourself off the ground yet?

Okay, good.  I feel like I may be the last person on Earth who doesn't have cable.  No 300+ channels at my fingertips to maximize my procrastination tendencies.  No news programs, no cooking shows, no movie stations.  And I like it that way.  You see what I do have is this thing called the internet and Hulu and Netflix streaming, and believe you me I watch plenty of programming that way.

Where was I going with this?  Oh, right.

So D and I have been watching Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations in marathon sessions on Netflix streaming (9 whole seasons available with just a click of a mouse!) where we sit around and drool at all the amazing food he gets to eat, and cringe when he's offered weird delicacies such as fermented shark or an ostrich egg cooked in the ground, smothered in coals.  But when the food's good, it's oh-so-good, inspiring new cravings every 10 minutes and a new destination to add to the "must visit" travel list.

The place that gets me every time, I mean really makes me crawl with jealousy, is Italy.  When I see pictures, the beaches, the food or hear stories about strolling plazas and eating freshly made pastas and gelato for every meal, my heart melts.  Italy, come to me.  And when I can no longer take the yearning, I start flipping through Jamie's Italy, just to torture myself a little more.

Eggplant Caponata
Adapted from Jamie's Italy, Jamie Oliver

4 servings

olive oil
2 large purple globe eggplants, cut into large chunks
1 heaping teaspoon dried oregano
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
a small bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and stems finely chopped
2 tablespoons salted capers, rinsed, soaked,and drained
a handful of green olives, pits removed
2-3 tablespoons best-quality herb vinegar
5 large ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted (optional)

In a large pan, pour in a couple of glugs of olive oil, and place on the heat. Add your eggplant chunks and oregano, season with a little salt, and toss around so the eggplant is evenly coated by the oil. Cook on a high heat for around 4 or 5 minutes, giving the pan a shake every now and then.

When the eggplants are nice and golden on each side, add the onion, garlic, and parsley stems and continue cooking for another couple of minutes. Feel free to add a little more oil to the pan if you feel it's getting too dry.Throw in the drained capers and the olives and drizzle over the herb vinegar. When all the vinegar has evaporated, add the tomatoes and simmer for around 15 minutes or until tender.

Taste before serving and season if you need to with salt, pepper, and a little more vinegar. Drizzle with some good olive oil and serve sprinkled with the chopped parsley leaves and the pine nuts if you like.

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