Tuesday, February 28, 2012

California Caponata over Angel Hair


California Caponata over Angel Hair

Pronunciation: [kap-oh-NAH-tah]

Caponata is Sicilian dish.  According to the Food Network website, “Caponata is composed of eggplant, onions, tomatoes, anchovies, olives, pine nuts, capers and vinegar, all cooked together in olive oil. It's most often served at room temperature.”

My husband and I have been trying to come up with more meatless meals.  It’s Caponata served warm over pasta. My recipe is sweet and savory, and packed with natural goodness.  If you observe lent, this a great option for you.

I left out the anchovy to make this vegetarian.  I think the saltiness of the capers and the olive suffice without the extra punch of the anchovy. 

I also eliminated the pine nuts. I believe that pine nuts are a very overpriced product for what they add to this dish. I used celery for that extra crunch.

I also tossed in chick peas to bump up the protein.  That’s for me. 

Oh, and chopped dried figs;  I’ve seen recipes with raisins before.  I had figs on hand so I thought I would incorporate those - hence the reference to California in the recipe title.

Note:   I stole the cocoa powder idea from Mario Batali.  Although his Caponata recipe is completely different, I still like to give credit where credit is due.

My recipe serves four, but you can double, triple, or quadruple it as needed. 

Ingredients: 

·         1 pound Angel Hair pasta
·         3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra if needed*
·         1 eggplant, skin removed and diced into bite sized pieces
·         1 small onion, chopped
·         2 stalks celery, chopped
·         1 can chick peas,  8 ounces, drained and rinsed
·         1 clove garlic, minced
·         1 cup store-bought Arrabbiata sauce (for spicy) or marinara sauce (for mild)
·         4 pitted Queen Spanish olives stuffed with pimento, sliced
·         1/2 tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed (chopped if large capers)
·         4 dried figs, chopped
·         2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
·         1 tablespoon honey
·         1 teaspoon natural unsweetened cocoa powder
·         Fresh torn mint (optional)
·         Parmesan cheese for topping, (optional)

Prepare pasta per package directions and keep warm.

Add oil to skillet and heat over medium heat. 

Add eggplant, onion, and celery.  Sauté for three or four minutes until softened.  Add chick peas.  Cook for three or four more minutes.  Add garlic and sauté for one more minute.

Add sauce, olives, capers and figs.  Cook until sauce is warmed through (about three minutes).

Add vinegar.  Cook for one more minute.

Stir in honey and cocoa powder.  Cook for one more minute.

Serve over pasta with garlic bread on the side. Top pasta with mint if using.

*Eggplant acts like a sponge.  Have a little extra olive oil on hand in case you need it for the sauté.

Source for definition:  Food Network


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