Michèle’s Roasted Caponata with Pine Nuts
Michèle Stone and her husband Harry Howe are great supporters of music in the Bay Area. They are also gastronauts of the highest order. We sampled her version of caponata a few weeks ago and immediately asked for the recipe. They had just returned from a trip to Sicily – somewhere we are dying to visit one day. One lovely thing about this recipe is that the eggplant (aubergine) is baked rather than fried which makes it healthier. As a character in Little Britain said “if it has half the calories, you can have twice as much!”
This Sicilian appetizer can also be served as a salad or picnic fare.
Serve with grilled or toasted country-style bread.
• 2 globe eggplants (about 2 pounds total), cut into ¾-inch cubes
• ¼ cup pine nuts
• ¼ cup olive oil (plus some for brushing on eggplant cubes)
• 1 small fennel bulb, cut into ¾-inch pieces
• 1 medium red onion, cut into ¾-inch pieces
• 2 yellow chiles, seeded and thinly sliced
• 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
• ¼ teaspoon paprika
• 1 cup canned diced or crushed tomatoes, drained
• ½ cup red wine vinegar
• ¼ cup sweetened dried cranberries
• 1 tablespoon sugar or agave nectar (optional)
• Preheat an oven to 450° F and position a rack in the lower third of the oven.
• Lightly oil a 15 by 10 inch baking sheet.
• Lightly brush eggplant cubes with olive oil and spread on baking sheet.
• Roast in the oven for 8 minutes. Turn the cubes and roast for another 8 minutes, or until softened. Set aside to cool.
• Toast pine nuts in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, tossing often, until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
• Heat ¼ cup olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook fennel, onion, chiles, and garlic, stirring occasionally, until tender but not browned, 6–8 minutes.
• Stir in paprika and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, vinegar, and sugar or agave nectar (if using). Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
• Add pine nuts, cranberries, and eggplant. Simmer until heated through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Let cool.
• Best made a day or two ahead. Serve with bread.