A Veggie Cornucopia!
So often, especially in the warmer months, we look for lighter fare, but still want satisfying flavors with a beautiful visual. Look no further! The Sicilians (sorry Mom and Dad) nailed it with their caponata – a melange of vegetables, featuring the eggplant, which offer so much flavor you almost don’t need another thing on your dish. Take it one step further with ROASTED CAPONATA SALAD and you’ve got a winner.
Caponata in its classic form in Italy, is Sicilian in origin, though many believe it really started in Spain with their caponada. It is usually made on top of the stove with the veggies cut smaller. It is a little saucy – both in texture and in measure of spice – kind of a spread, often found in antipasto, containing a little heat. With this roasted version used for salad, I keep the vegetables a little larger – chunky and less saucy. The Sicilians, inhabited by Arab conquerors over history, adopted many of their dishes, ingredients and methods. You’ll see them more in Sicily than elsewhere in Italy. One of these methods is the roasting of vegetables and the addition of sweet flavors with the savory. It was originally thought of as a sea-faring dish – great for long voyages – because it lasted so long without spoiling.
You’ll see all kinds of vegetables and ingredients that some add to the dish. I like the simpler variety for use in the salad. It is lovely and not over-complicated.
I, personally, think this is one of the most brilliant dishes to come from the Italian kitchen. It is easy, with great flavor, and is so versatile. It can be used as a starter, in a salad, over rice, couscous or pasta – more ways too many to list!
This is soooo easy. You actually make the roasted caponata using one bowl and one baking dish – drizzle, pour, sprinkle, toss – and roast! Does it get any simpler? After roasting the veggies, bring them to room temperature or refrigerate. You can even make it ahead or freeze it if you want. You’ll like this one so much, you’ll want to keep a good supply in your refrigerator for use at a moment’s notice.
When you are ready to serve – give the caponata a toss with some fresh greens and serve immediately. FINITO!
There have been many summer nights on the patio that we have dined on this salad alone. So light – it just seemed like enough. If you want more – you’ll find that this salad pairs well with any meat or fish – grilled if you like. You can even add a crusty bread! All this chatter is making me very hungry. Andiamo!
ROASTED CAPONATA SALAD
Serves: about 6
Prep: 15-20 minutes
Cook: about 20 minutes
1/3 C. Olive Oil
1/8 C. Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 Tbsp. Sugar
Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste
4 Baby Eggplants or a 1 Medium sized Eggplant – chopped in good size pieces (about an inch) skins left on
1 Clove Fresh Garlic – chopped
1 Purple (Red) Onion cut up
1 Fresh Red Pepper – cut up coarsely
About 2 C. baby tomatoes – like cherry tomatoes – a combination of yellow and red – cut in half
Several Fresh Lemon slices
1/8-1/4 tsp.Red Pepper Flakes – amount will depend on how much heat you like
Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste
ADD AFTER BAKING:
Several slices of Roasted Red Pepper – from the jar or make your own using the easy method described HERE.
1/2 C. Castelvetrano Olives (the bright green ones!) – cut in half
3 Tbsp. Capers, rinsed and drained
1/4 c. Fresh Italian Parsley – chopped coarsely
Field greens or Baby Romaine or Green leafy lettuce – whatever you like!
Combine ingredients above designated for dressing. Mix well. Set aside.
Chop your vegetables and lemon slices very coarsely as suggested and place them in a large bowl. Add salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and mix.
Next add the dressing and toss.
Pour all ingredients mixed in the bowl onto a baking pan lined with foil. (it’s just easier to clean that way.)
Roast at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes or until tender.
Remove from oven and mix in the roasted red peppers, olives, capers and parsley.
Cool to room temp and serve mixed with your favorite salad greens or as mentioned above or refrigerate and serve later.
ROASTED CAPONATA SALAD is soon to be your summer go-to salad. It’s healthy and full of flavor both from the roasted veggies and the dressing. You can even grill the veggies if you like.
PARLA COME MANGI!
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Food Photos By Tommy Hanks Photography