This is about the time of year when people who are lucky enough to have prolific gardens start to feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of gorgeous bright red tomatoes and beautiful zucchini that their loving care has yielded. A problem I’d like to have, quite honestly…
Growing up, my grandparents next door neighbors had a garden behind their house. By the end of July, it was practically bursting at the seams. Every summer we were the grateful recipients of brown paper grocery bags filled with tomatoes and cucumbers from his garden. The trade off was the newspaper. One of us was sent next door to give them the paper every day after my grandparents had read it and in turn, every few days he left a bag of fresh from the ground veggies on the back porch. Not a bad arrangement.
If you find yourself overrun with tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, etc… this recipe is perfect! It utilizes all of the wonderful produce of summer in a healthy vegetarian dish that is… well, super yummy.
Ratatouille can be eaten warm, at room temperature or even cold. It is substantial enough to stand on its own or it can be served alongside roast chicken or tossed through your favorite pasta.
I have sandwiched it in a crusty ciabatta roll for lunch or served it on sliced, toasted baguettes as an hors d’oeuvre with a glass of wine. This recipe is the epitome of summer, there really is no wrong way to enjoy it.
Being of Irish/Dutch heritage, “caponata” wasn’t exactly part of my vocabulary growing up. I was introduced to it about 6 years ago and since then it has been a work in progress to duplicate that recipe. It took a few tries, but I think I’ve pretty much nailed it. I’ve had my fair share of different caponatas since then, but none have really stood up to that first one.
Those of you that are familiar with it can sing it’s praises, but to those of you who aren’t… let me tell you what you’re missing.
Caponata is the epitome of Sicilian flavors. It is sweet, sour and a little salty. It has a depth of flavor that comes out even more after a day or two, and like most things: every Sicilian household has their own variation. It is basically a condiment. It is meant to be eaten along side a main course.
The main ingredient is eggplant, which is the signature vegetable of Sicily. It is earthy from the eggplant, salty from capers & olives, bitter from vinegar and gets texture from the pine nuts.
That pretty much sums it up, but believe me when I tell you there is nothing I can say that will do it justice.
You know that saying: She might not be the prettiest girl at the party, but she has a great personality. Well, THAT is caponata. It isn’t the most appealing thing in a bowl, but for me it was love at first bite… cartoon style: stars in my eyes, birds singing over my head, heart beating visibly out of my chest.