Cooking with Jonathan By Jonathan Jolicoeur

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In this weekly culinary column, I will be focusing on one dish – giving the reader
a quick history of the dish, the classical preparation of it, and of course, my own spin on the classic.

This week I have chosen to cover a Sicilian dish – caponata. Caponata owes its origin to the country of Sicily – this dish generally consists of eggplant and various other vegetables, cooking in a “sweet and sour” sauce. Capers, as well as sweetened vinegar, are typical additions that can be found in various recipes. Many variations will also contain some type of protein – whether it be seafood, pork or chicken; however, this dish is almost always considered a “sweet and sour” cooked “vegetable salad” of sorts.

Classical Caponata

1 lb​Eggplant, large-diced pieces
1 tbsp​Kosher salt
2 oz​Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 lg​Onion, medium-dices pieces
¾ cup​Crushed tomatoes
¼ cup​Celery, chopped
1 oz​Red wine vinegar
1 tbsp​Granulated sugar
1 tbsp ​Black pepper, freshly cracked

Dice the eggplant and toss with salt. Reserve the salted eggplant in a colander for up to 45 minutes. While the eggplant “marinates,” preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Toss the eggplant with the olive oil, place on a baking sheet and then into the oven. While the eggplant cooks, place a medium-sized pan over medium heat and sweat the diced onions till translucent. Add the celery and sweat until cooked. Add the tomatoes to the pan and then cook about 5 minutes prior to adding the remaining ingredients. Allow everything to simmer on low to medium heat for roughly 15 minutes, and reserve till the eggplant is cooked. Once the eggplant is cooked, remove from oven, toss in the sauce and serve.

Jonathan’s Caponata

1 lb​Eggplant, large-diced pieces
1 tbsp​Sea salt
2 oz​Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 lg​Onion, medium-diced pieces
½ cup​Italian olives (Cerignola)
1 clove​Garlic, thinly sliced
2 tbsp​Capers
¾ cup​Crushed tomatoes
¼ cup​Celery, chopped
2 oz​White balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp​Golden raisins, soaked in 1oz of the vinegar
1 oz​Honey
1 tbsp ​Black pepper, freshly cracked
1 sprig​Basil, chopped
1 tbsp ​Pine nuts, toasted
2 tbsp​Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

Dice the eggplant and toss with salt. Reserve the salted eggplant in a colander for up to 45 minutes. While the eggplant “marinates,” preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the eggplant with the olive oil, place on a baking sheet and then into the oven. While the eggplant cooks, place a medium-sized pan over medium heat and sweat the diced onions till translucent. Once translucent, add the olives, capers and garlic to the pan and allow to cook for a minute before adding the crushed tomatoes. Allow the crushed tomatoes to cook on medium-low heat for 5 minutes before adding the remaining ingredients – reserving only the basil, pine nuts and parmigiano. Allow this sauce to cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes and reserve till the eggplant is cooked through. Once the eggplant is cooked, remove from over, toss in the sauce with the basil – then top with toasted pine nuts and grated parmigiano and serve.

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