Thursday, 1 August 2013

Sapori Siciliani

Couscous & Caponata
Couscous & Caponata

I guess I must be feeling a little melancholy, thinking of Sicily, of home and of all the sights, sounds colors and flavors that go with it- sigh! But the fact is, apart from all of all of these things- or should I say, as well as... Sicilian food is just SO wonderful during the Summertime!

Probably the most famous and well-loved appetizer of all in Sicily, is the rich, colorful and oh-so flavorful "caponata", a combination of tomatoes, eggplants, celery, carrot, onion, garlic, raisins, peppers, zucchini, capers, oregano, basil, salt, pepper, tomato-paste, sugar and garlic.... now that has got to be one of the most potent and incredible collections of ingredients in the world for you right there!

To make twice the amount of caponata you can see in the pictures, which means enough for 4 generous servings, I used 1 small eggplant, 2 spring onions, 1 clove of garlic, 1 small carrot, 2 small stalks of celery, 4-5 black olives, 4-5 cherry tomatoes, 2 mini-bell peppers, half of a small zucchini, 1 tablespoon of capers, 1 handful of raisins, basil, oregano and parsley... and you just know with that list of ingredients that it's gotta taste good! It doesn't sound like much does it? But you will see that you will soon have a panful of wonderfulness in just next to no time! This is how I made it...

I started off by sautéing the carrot, celery and peppers first, as these are the ingredients that will take longest to cook. After 3-4 minutes I added the eggplant and garlic, salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar. I kept the use of oil to a minimum and the heat high, kept the food moving in the pan and things worked out just fine. Once the eggplant began to brown, I added the zucchini, olives, raisins and capers, the tomatoes, chopped parsley and basil and a good pinch of oregano... LOTS of flavor in there by now!

I kept stirring all the time and around 5 minutes later pushed the caponata back to the sides of the pan, added a teaspoon of tomato paste and stirred this into the vegetable mix. I deglazed the pan with a little water, a little red wine vinegar, a squeeze of honey and little cinnamon for a hint of spice... and let me tell you- those juices came together to form the most wonderful dressing you can possibly imagine!

Once the caponata had cooled off some, I served it on a simple bed of couscous, with a sprinkle of parsley, a drizzle of olive oil and squeeze of lemon juice. Real Summer food for a hot day or a hotter night!

The couscous was flavored simply with olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, mint, salt and pepper.I served it with some of the very young and intense, yellow, inner leaves of the celery- these add a great kick! Of course I was impatient and enjoyed mine straight away- but this tastes best cold and the flavor improves with time! So there's no need to hurry- but there is time to enjoy! I sure hope you do- I know that I do every time!

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