Dan calls himself a ‘restless chef’. He creates a recipe, it becomes a staple on our menus, our clients grow to love it and keep returning to it and then it suddenly disappears. This is one of his ‘restless’ moments. Dan needs to constantly feel creative so dependable standbys disappear and something new pops up…only to be pushed out later by another shiny object that caught his eye.
I give you ‘Eggplant Caponata’. When we first opened Hearty Boys back in 18 years ago, this chunky Sicilian Eggplant Dip appeared on most of our buffets. A cousin to the Greek Melitzanosalada and the Levantine Baba Ghanoush, Caponata is tart with acidic Balsamic and Tomato. It’s wonderful as an accompaniment to fish or just as a dip with crispy flatbreads.
I chose this as this month’s recipe for no other reason than it popped back into my head and I love it. It still makes appearances on our buffets and it should make an appearance on your own dinner table.
On an unrelated side note, as I type this it strikes me that Caponata, Melitzano and Baba would be excellent names if I had 3 goldfish. Which in turn makes me aware that Dan and I must both suffer a little of this ‘restless’ mind syndrome.
1 large Italian eggplant, peeled and cut into medium dice
1 TB Kosher salt
3 Tb extra virgin olive oil
1 Small white onion, diced
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 celery stalks, diced
¼ cup tomato paste
½ cup balsamic vinegar
2 TB sugar
¼ cup capers
Pour the olive oil into a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and celery and sweat until the onion is translucent. Add the eggplant and stir. Let cook until the eggplant begins to soften. Add the tomato paste, salt, vinegar sugar and capers, lower the heat and cook an additional 15 minutes, stirring several times. Remove from heat and chill before serving.