This week I had an overwhelming urge to cook eggplant. I checked previous posts and found I had written about eggplant about this time last year. Maybe it’s a seasonal affliction that comes over me. So I bought a very fine aubergine to abate my yearning. But which recipe should I make?
I could make my favorite Eggplant Parmesan and freeze the remains. Perhaps a Spaghetti alla Norma like those I enjoyed so much in Sicily. Maybe something Mediterranean like Baba Ghanoush (an eggplant dip) or Moussaka (the baked casserole).
Or a Caponata, the Italian eggplant salad (some call it a relish), with a sweet-tangy taste. But that recipe required sweating the eggplant, a store run for ingredients I didn’t have on hand, and a full afternoon in the kitchen chopping and caramelizing.
So what did I go for? The Caponata. Couldn’t resist. I fussed at myself all along the way as I assembled and chopped the ingredients and measured and sauteed each item at its preferred temperature. Finally, after the eggplant, tomatoes, onions, celery, olives, capers, toasted pine nuts, raisins all came together, I stood back to admire my creation, surrounded by the fallout: bowls, spoons, pans, and towels everywhere. The kitchen was a mess. But the Caponata was lovely, though not nearly as good to eat immediately as it would be the next day or even the day afterwards.
Kitchen Note: Several Internet food sleuths warned not to buy pine nuts from China because of a preservative they use. Turkish pine nuts were preferred. I looked, but couldn’t find them in my local supermarket.)
Not the End of the Story
Ahh. . . the satisfaction! Yes, the joy that came each day as my Caponata seasoned and melded into a bit of heaven. I was rewarded for nearly a week. I used it on a salmon cake, a grilled cheese sandwich, hamburger, green beans, crackers, bruschetta, rice and spaghetti. I felt like I was on a Mediterranean holiday.