Sunday, July 25, 2010

Caponata alla Sicilliana

I am not sure what to say here....well I feel rather strange being back both in my apartment and also here after having spent a full week in the children's ward of Westend Klinik in Berlin with my little son who contracted some kind of nasty virus which emulated the platelets in his blood with the resulting anti-viral produced by him then destroying all his platelets and hence his blood would not clot, gruesome, frightening and I hope the last time I will encounter something like it - a potentially dangerous situation, although thanks to the rather amazing German health system a better experience than in Ireland I would imagine ... private room, private nurse, bottled mineral water... all good.  He is still not out of the woods yet but is thankfully back in his own bed and I can maybe cook and eat something none-mushy and normal.

So apologies for the lack of blog, but obviously getting children back to good health is the main priority.

So I have been enjoying my return to the kitchen and in a kind of celebratory way, have made a chocolate loaf, Caponata, a delicious tomato risotto.... nothing beats home cooking, and thankfully with the cooler temperatures, appetites have picked up again and I hear the pitter patter of tiny feet and the chorus of ...'mama what's for tea'!

This Caponata is for the adults, at least my boys did not eat it, the tomato risotto is definitely for the children and I will post up the recipe tomorrow.

Caponata is traditionally a Sicilian side dish or appetiser which can be eaten warm or cold, with fish, bread or even on pasta.  It is incredibly versatile and for me it is colourful and is the real taste of summer.
Our local Russian shop which is open on Sunday (clearly to serve those just out of hospital) was bursting to the brim with aubergine (egg plant), celery and deliciously ripe tomatoes, any fruit you can imagine and even some milk from Poland.

For a Caponata which was a substantial side dish for two I used:

1 aubergine, cut into small cubes
1 large red pepper, de-seeded and cubed
1 large red onion, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, finely slices
4 large, very ripe tomatoes, de-skinned and de-seeded
100g pitted black olives
75g capers, rinsed and drained
2 tblsps balsamic vinegar
1 pinch sugar
6 tblsps extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a wide, shallow pan heat the olive oil and add the aubergines, red pepper and red onion.  Sautee the vegetables on a high heat for about 5 or 6 minutes.  Add the chopped de-skinned, de-seeded tomatoes, garlic, olives, capers and taste for seasoning.  Add a little salt if you think it needs it and some black pepper.  Taste and add the balsamic vinegar.  Cook on a medium heat for a further 8-10 minutes until all the vegetables are soft but not mushy.

Turn off the heat and let it sit for ten minutes before serving.  Traditionally a Mediterranean fisherman's salad, this was sent out as a packed lunch with some bread and some local wine. 
It is delicious served slightly warm with some crusty bread rubbed with a garlic clove.  It would also be a good served with a simple, pan-fried white fish and boiled new potatoes, and we also ate it as a side dish to some schnitzel this weekend which was great.

A truly versatile vegetable dish for all occasions. 
Its good to be back to the land of the living.

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