Caponata and Other Mediterranean Delights

Last month I taught a Mediterranean Appetizers and Small Plates Class. I teach this class 2-3 times a year, and each time we have tons of fun. It’s a great way to meet new people, learn about some unusual ingredients and dishes, and a supportive environment while practicing some new cooking techniques – followed by sampling all the treats! It’s a great way to spend an evening.

caponataapple walnut crostinifritattata

I am never entirely sure what we will be preparing, as it depends on what items I can get at the grocery store at the time. This time we made:

  • Potato and Red Pepper Frittata from Spain
  • Apple Walnut Crostini from Provencal France (adapted from the BakedBree Blog, we used goat cheese)
  • Caponata and Tomato Crostini from Italy
  • Tzatziki and Cheese Phyllo Triangles from Greece
  • Hummus from the Middle East

Not sure what happened to all the photos, but I can assure you everything was wonderful. The Mediterranean diet is healthy, full of healthy fats and lots of veggies. I am convinced that one of its biggest advantages though, is the amount of variety it includes. Because the Mediterranean diet includes so many different tastes and textures, one never feels deprived. The flavors sing on the tongue and satisfy us, so we don’t overeat. There is probably no science that backs up my theory, but there should be!

One of the favorite dishes was Caponata. Many people think that they don’t like eggplant, but this dish which can be served as a relish or dip, brings out the best in that maligned vegetable. For an even better flavor, refrigerate overnight before using.

Recipe:

  • 1 large eggplant, roasted
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 red bell peppers, chopped
  • 14 oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 3 Tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
  • 3 Tbsp chopped kalamata olives
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar

Roast eggplant* and allow to cool. Chop.

*To roast eggplant; preheat oven to 450 degrees. Wash and trim eggplant. Cut in half and score down the middle. Place on foil cut side down and bake for 20 – 25 minutes.

Heat one Tbsp olive oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add onion and celery and sauté until onion softens. Add the garlic. Cook for a minute and add bell peppers and about ½ tsp salt. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 5-8 minutes. Add eggplant and another Tbsp oil and continue cooking for another 5 minutes or so.

Add tomatoes. Cook, for 5-10 minutes or until the tomatoes have cooked down. Add capers, olives, sugar and vinegar. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often, for 20 – 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and the mixture is quite thick. Season with salt and pepper and allow to cool to room temperature.

 

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About the Author

Renee Pottle, an author and heart-healthy educator, loves to explore and write about the Mediterranean Diet. She blogs at SeedToPantry.com and HestiasKitchen.com.

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