I don’t like purple very much, as a color. For the most part, I’d rather not wear it, decorate with it, or even color with it (when I’m indulging in the new adult coloring trend . . . Enchanted Forest, anyone?). Luckily I don’t mind eating it, since my mission this weekend was to use up some of the end-of-summer bounty that’s been accumulating in the crisper and on the counter, and that bounty consisted of, among other things, anthocyanin-rich eggplant, red cabbage, Italian prune plums, and purple carrots. This plentitude helped make up a menu of caponata (a traditional sweet and sour Sicilian eggplant spread), crispy cauliflower with whole cloves of garlic (see last week’s post for the recipe), braised red cabbage with Polish sausages, roasted purple carrots with thyme, and a lattice-crust Italian prune plum tart with vanilla ice cream. I’m ready to move on to a new color for the next feast (I’m imagining a lot of great possibilities with orange!), but I have to say that this particular purple experience was perfectly pleasant.
Sicilian Eggplant Caponata with Pine Nuts
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 medium Sicilian eggplant (about 1 lb), chopped into 3/4-inch cubes (or you can use a “normal” globe eggplant)
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 14.5 oz can chopped tomatoes with juice
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup chopped green Sicilian olives
- 2 Tbsp capers
- 2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
- 4 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
- salt and pepper
- grilled ciabatta slices, to serve
serves 8 to 10 as an appetizer
- In a large sauté pan, heat about half of the olive oil over medium high heat. Add eggplant cubes and stir, then drizzle remaining oil over and stir to coat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until eggplant begins to brown and soften, about 6 to 8 minutes.
- Add onion, celery, and bell pepper; cook 5 to 7 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Add garlic, tomatoes with their juice, raisins, olives, capers, vinegar, sugar, and cinnamon and stir. Cook about 20 minutes more, stirring occasionally, or until vegetables are soft but not mushy and most of the liquid has evaporated.
- Remove from heat, add salt and pepper to taste, and stir in pine nuts and parsley. Serve at warm or at room temperature, with grilled ciabatta slices. Caponata tastes even better the next day, so make it in advance if you can.