Tag Archives: Pepper

Caponata (Eggplant Stew)

20 Aug

Caponata is a delicious dish, typical of the Sicilian cuisine made with sautéed vegetables (mostly eggplants) and seasoned with sweet and sour sauce.  Sicilians are very proud of it because it is made only native Sicilian ingredients. It can be served cold either as an appetizer or as a side dish, but you can also enjoy it as a main course with a thick slice of homemade bread. It makes a perfect dish for a summer picnic because it can be prepared in advance and stored in the refrigerator.  Actually, it is a handy dish to have ready in your fridge for unexpected guests or nights when you don’t know what to prepare. Like for all recipes, there is a basic recipe and many variations. I learned this recipe which contains peppers from a dear friend from Palermo (Sicily). The origin of this dish is uncertain -: The etymology refers to the Spanish language “caponata” which means “similar”.  According to the Sicilian tradition, the term caponata comes from “capone” which is the name of an expensive fish, served with a sweet and sour sauce, typical of caponata.  Poor people could not afford this expensive fish, therefore they replaced it with the cheapest eggplants.  According to other sources, the name derives from “caupone“, the name of the taverns, in which this dish was served. Regardless this recipe’s origins, the fact is that it is really tasty, definitely something to try!


CAPONATA (EGGPLANT STEW)
Preparation time: 2 ½ hours   Cooking time: 30 minutes    Servings: 8

Caponata (2)


INGREDIENTS
900 g (2 pounds) eggplant
2 medium onions, finely chopped
450 g (1 pound) celery, finely chopped
110 g (⅔ cup) pine nuts
150 g (1 cup) green olives
3 tablespoons cucunci capers (preserved in salt)
450 g (1 pound) peppers
450 g (1 pound) tomatoes S. Marzano, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
110 ml (½ cup) white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
5-6 leaves of fresh basil
Extra Virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS
1. Cut eggplants into pieces about 2,5 cm (1 inch) long, put them in a large colander and sprinkle with coarse salt. Allow to stand for at least two hours under a weight to remove their bitter liquid. To aid the removal of the liquid, try putting the colander in a slightly inclined position. After two hours, remove salt from the eggplant with a kitchen brush and dry by patting them with paper towels. Fry in hot oil olive. Set aside
2. In a pan with high sides, sauté onions, celery, peppers, capers, olives and pine nuts in olive oil for about 7-8 min. Add tomatoes. Cook for about 10 minutes over low heat until celery is tender
3. Add eggplants, basil leaves and sugar dissolved in vinegar. Mix well and cook over medium-low heat for about 5-6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper
4. Let set for a few hours serve at room temperature.

Note: The caponata can be stored in the refrigerator for several days in a glass or ceramic container closed with a lid. Before consuming, leave it at room temperature.  -Paola

 

 

 

 

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Insalata di Lenticchie (Lentil Salad)

7 Aug

This lentil salad with fresh vegetables is a refreshing, summertime dish that you can enjoy either as a main course accompanied by cheese, or served as a side dish. This is a recipe you can prepare in advance and stored in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours. It is quick and easy, in fact, it is not necessary to soak the lentils for several hours before cooking them.  It is best served fresh, “just made”, at room temperature, but you can also refrigerate it and enjoy it cold the next day. Surely this salad is healthy and nutritious. Lentils, in fact, like all legumes, are an important nutritional source of proteins and carbohydrates (in the past they were known as “la carne dei poveri” the meat of poor people), but they are also low in fat. They are also rich in iron, potassium, phosphorus and dietary fiber which are important to keep your cholesterol levels in check. Lentils are ancient legumes, consumed by the Egyptians and present in different quotations from the Bible. In the past, they were peasants’ food because of the high nutritional value and low cost. These tasty and versatile legumes, often found in vegetarian cuisine, are good in salads, soups and other recipes. Do not forget that lentils are a symbol of luck and wealth, therefore let’s eat them in abundance!

INSALATA DI LENTICCHIE (LENTIL SALAD)
Preparation time: 30 min. Cooking time: 20 min. Servings: 4

Insalata di Lenticchie
INGREDIENTS
280 g (10 oz) dry lentils
1 bay leaf
300 g ( 11 oz) cherry tomatoes
1 cucumber, diced
1 white onion, diced
1 medium pepper, diced
1 bunch of basil
4 tablespoons of olive oil (Extra Virgin)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

DIRECTIONS
1. Rinse the lentils under running water, put them in a pot with the bay leaf and plenty of water, and boil until they are crisp, about 18-20 minutes. A few minutes before they are done, add some salt. The cooking time should be indicated on the packaging. Drain and allow to cool
3. While the lentils are cooking, cut the tomatoes in half, dice the cucumber. Mix together in a bowl and let stand for about 15 minutes at room temperature to remove the water
4. Drain the tomatoes and cucumber with a strainer. Cut the onion and pepper. In a large bowl mix all the vegetables
5. In a small bowl prepare the dressing with olive oil, salt and pepper
5. Add the lentils and some basil leaves to the vegetable mix, toss well with the dressing. Leave for 10-15 minutes and serve at room temperature.   -Paola

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