Grape Gourmet – Cucina Dello Zio

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Caponata (Caponatina)

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#caponata #infornataOlives #olives #eggplant #sicilian #calabrese #homemade #Food #CucinaDelloZio - #homegrown #herbs

Caponata / Caponatina
Caponatina is a variant of Caponata, a Sicilian eggplant/olive antipasto.
by James Belardo

This is ‘the recipe’ my grandmother taught me before she passed away in 1992. Her family was from Scilla, a small seaside Calabrian village across the channel from Messina, Sicily. The style of cooking in Scilla can be described as Calabrese with definite Sicilian influences – Pretty much my grandmother’s style of cooking. After all, she learned from her mother, a mix of Calabrese and Siciliani. She also learned Napoletani cooking from her mother-in-law. My wife and I have had the privilege of visiting Scilla a few times.

Ingredients
2  Sicilian eggplants (or regular eggplants), cut into 3/4-inch cubes*
1-2 cups celery, chopped
1-2 cups red onions, chopped
3/4 cup olives, black sun-dried ‘Calabrian’ Infornate olives (bitter), hand pitted. (pitted Black Kalamata olives can also be used)
3/4 cup green ‘calabrese’ olives (pitted) or 1 jar Manzanilla olives
1/4 cup capers (in brine), drained
1/3 cup Pignoli (pine nuts), roasted (see below) – optional
1 28 oz can plum tomatoes (San Marzano), hand crushed
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped (fresh)
1-2 tbsp natural sugar
Salt and pepper – to taste
olive oil
avocado oil (for frying eggplant)

Eggplant Prep
(Sicilian Eggplant is preferred but the regular type can also used)
Place the cubed eggplant in a large bowl of cold salted-water. This keeps the eggplant from getting brown (oxidation) and helps prevent too much oil from being soaked in during cooking. Rinse and drain prior to frying. Drain and squeeze the water out well before frying to help prevent the oil from splattering too much.

Celery and Onions
Dice the celery and onions. The total volume of the chopped celery and onions should equal the volume of ‘cooked’ eggplant. I usually use 1 large onion and 4-5 stalks celery.

Olives and Capers
Jarred or canned olives are okay, I usually use 1 jar of Manzanillo (stuffed with peppers), 1 jar of pre diced Kalamata (or black) olives and ½ or ¾ cup of sun-dried (bitter) Calabrian black olives. Remove seeds if needed. Rinse with cold water and drain.

Toasted Pine Nuts – optional
The pine puts can be roasted in the oven. Check out how to here, Oven-Toasted Pine Nuts

Directions
1. The Eggplant – Add a combination of avocado oil and olive oil to a large skillet and bring up to medium temperature. Fry the eggplant, mixing well, until lightly brown (add more olive oil when necessary). Remove eggplant when cooked. set aside in a bowl. Don’t use too much oil, eggplant has a tendency to soak up the oil, but will release some as it approaches being done.
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2. The Caponatina – In a dutch oven or large deep-dish skillet, sauté the onions and celery in olive oil. Mix well and when the onions are beginning to show some translucence, reduce heat to medium.
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3. Now’s the time add the olives and capers, mix well and let cook for a minute or two.
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4. Add the eggplant, mix well and let simmer for a minute or two.
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5. Add the tomatoes and balsamic vinegar; heat until bubbling.
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6. Add the sugar, salt and pepper.
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5. Add the chopped basil. Mix well and let cook while you toast the pignoli (pine nuts).
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6. Simmer for about 5 minutes, mixing often, let cool s bit. Finally, add the toasted pignoli ( pine nuts).
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Best served cold on Italian bread (panini) as a topping (like bruschetta) or as a sandwich.

Store in refrigerator.

Please share, it would honor my grandmother!

The Grape Gourmet
• health • wellness • culture • flavor •

a Mo’zArt Production

Written by Zio James

October 17, 2012 at 9:54 PM

4 Responses

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  1. […] Caponatina is a family recipe passed to me by my Grandmother (Nonna) before she passed away in ’92. You see, the family on my Grandmother’s side are from Scilla, Reggio Calabria, Italy. Scilla is a Calabrian village on the ‘big-toe’ of Italy across from Sicilian city of Messina.  When visiting Scilla in 2008 I discovered how much my Grandmother’s cooking was influenced by Sicilia (with a lil’Calabrese thrown in), this gave me a much better understanding on how my Grandmother cooked. . She also blended the cooking style of Naples, a tribute to my Grandfather’s family had roots. […]

    • I have made this recipe and it is delicious! Large quantity and ideal for sharing.

      Liz

      November 14, 2012 at 7:34 PM

  2. Dear cousin James (a/k/a my little brother),

    What a great foodie website and a wonderful tribite to our grandmother Marianna (Marion) Bellantonio-Crescenzo whom we both learned how to cook from since we lived in the same double family style house growing up in Brooklyn with three kitchens. Every respectable italian immigrant had a third kitchen put in their basements.

    I would love to reference your website on mine under my recipe section so all can get a taste of our combined sharing of our cooking knowlege

    Ann Marie Somer

    December 28, 2012 at 12:28 PM

  3. Dear cousin James
    This is such a great tribute to our grandmother, our family and our culture.
    Thank you for putting together such a wonderful site honoring our heritage.
    Love cousin Ann Marie
    Please visit my website for more recipies and help for living and coping with cancer
    AnnMariesSecrets.Com

    Ann Marie Somer

    August 21, 2013 at 6:36 AM


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