Incredible Sicilian aubergine stew (Caponata)

Incredible Sicilian aubergine stew (Caponata)

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SERVES 4

“This traditional Sicilian caponata recipe is absolutely gorgeous as a warm side or cold antipasto ”

Ingredients

olive oil
2 large aubergines , cut into large chunks
1 heaped teaspoon dried oregano
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 small red onion , peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic , peeled and finely sliced
1 small bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley , leaves picked and stalks finely chopped
2 tablespoons salted capers , rinsed, soaked and drained
1 handful green olives , stones removed
2-3 tablespoons best-quality herb vinegar
5 large ripe tomatoes , roughly chopped
2 tablespoons slivered almonds , lightly toasted, optional

Method

This is a fantastic dish from southern Italy that’s eaten as a warm vegetable side dish or a cold antipasto. Sicilians are proud that it’s made with produce from their island. All the different methods of making it are more or less the same – the things that make it stand out and be special are the quality of the aubergines, tomatoes and vinegar. Always try to get hold of nice firm aubergines with very few seeds – have a look down in your local market to see if you can find different colours. You could even ask your veg boy to cut one open so you can check it out. Don’t be tempted to cut the aubergine chunks too small or they will take on so much oil that they will become heavy. If this happens you don’t get to admire the lovely creamy flavour and texture. I’ve eaten caponata that’s been swimming in olive oil, but I much prefer mine to be less oily.

Get yourself a large pan, pour in a couple of lugs of olive oil, and place on the heat. Add your aubergine chunks and oregano, season with a little salt and toss around so the aubergine is evenly coated by the oil. Cook on a high heat for around 4 or 5 minutes, giving the pan a shake every now and then. (Depending on the size of your pan you may need to cook the aubergine in batches.)

When the aubergines are nice and golden on each side, add the onion, garlic and parsley stalks and continue cooking for another couple of minutes. Feel free to add a little more oil to the pan if you feel it’s getting too dry.

Throw in the drained capers and the olives and drizzle over the herb vinegar. When all the vinegar has evaporated, add the tomatoes and simmer for around 15 minutes or until tender.

Taste before serving and season if you need to with salt, pepper and a little more vinegar. Drizzle with some good olive oil and serve sprinkled with the chopped parsley leaves and the almonds if you like.
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Classic ratatouille

Classic ratatouille

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SERVES 4

“This humble vegetable stew is a super-healthy, hearty supper for any night of the week ”

Ingredients

2 red onions
4 cloves of garlic
2 aubergines
3 courgettes
3 red or yellow peppers
6 ripe tomatoes
½ a bunch of fresh basil
olive oil
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
1 x 400 g tin plum tomatoes
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
½ a lemon

Method

Prep your ingredients before you start – peel and cut the onions into wedges, then peel and finely slice the garlic. Trim the aubergines and courgettes, deseed the peppers and chop into 2.5cm chunks. Roughly chop the tomatoes. Pick the basil leaves and set aside, then finely slice the stalks.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large casserole pan or saucepan over a medium heat. Add the chopped aubergines, courgettes and peppers (you may need to do this in batches) and fry for around 5 minutes, or until golden and softened, but not cooked through. Spoon the veg into a large bowl.

To the pan, add the onion, garlic, basil stalks and thyme leaves with another drizzle of oil, if needed. Fry for 10 to 15 minutes, or until softened and golden. Return the cooked veg to the pan and stir in the fresh and tinned tomatoes, the balsamic and a good pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Mix well, breaking up the tomatoes with the back of a spoon. Cover the pan and simmer over a low heat for 30 to 35 minutes, or until reduced, sticky and sweet. Tear in the basil leaves, finely grate in the lemon zest and adjust the seasoning, if needed. Serve with a hunk of bread or steamed rice.

Read more at www.jamieoliver.com