Caponata (version XI)

2 medium eggplant (about 2 pounds)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large red onion
1 stalk fennel or celery, chopped
1 pound chopped plum tomatoes, or diced canned tomatoes
3 tablespoons capers, rinsed
3 tablespoons wine vinegar or part balsamic
3 tablespoons chopped pistachios
1/4 cup minced fresh basil and additional basil leaves for garnish
crackers, sliced baguettes, or lettuce leaves

Cut the eggplant into 1-inch chunks, salt it lightly and let drain in a colander for half an hour; rinse and pat dry. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and sauté the onions and eggplant until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the fennel, tomatoes, capers, and vinegar, and cook uncovered for 10 minutes, or until the fennel is still slightly crunchy. Chill several hours. Garnish with nuts and basil. Serve with crackers, baguettes, or on lettuce leaves as a salad.

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