Category Archives: Italian

Caponata Sicilian Style


Caponata is the Italian version of the French ratatouille, a stew of eggplant and other vegetables.  Generally both sweet and sour, it almost always has tomatoes, sugar and vinegar, and may also contain anchovies, capers and olives, or in the south of Italy, raisins and pignoli nuts.  I’ve even run across versions that had potatoes.

Caponata is served at room temperature, and can be eaten alone, as a salad, but I know folks who serve it on crusty Italian bread, or over baby greens.  This is a dish that is best made the day before you plan to serve it, allowing for the flavors to meld overnight.

1  medium eggplant ( about 1-1/2 pounds)
1-1/2 tbsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup pine nuts
3-4 TBS olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
1 celery rib, diced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 TBS tomato paste, mixed with ¼ cup of water
1 can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup golden raisins
¼ cup capers, rinsed and drained
¼ cup. white wine vinegar
2 TBS sugar

Cut eggplant into half inch cubes. Sprinkle lightly with salt and place in a colander to drain for 30-60 minutes.  Pat dry with paper towels.

While the eggplant is draining, toast the pine nuts over a large fry pan over low heat for 2 to 3 minutes, watch to ensure they don’t burn. You will need to stir frequently. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add olive oil to the fry pan and turn heat up to medium. Add the eggplant and sauté until softened and browned, about five minutes.  Add more olive oil if needed.  Remove from pan.

Add the diced onion, carrots, and celery, salt and pepper and cook until softened, about 6-8 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté another 2-3 minutes.  Add tomato paste mixture and cook until most of the moisture has evaporated.  Add diced tomatoes and simmer for ten minutes.

Sir in the raisins, capers, vinegar and sugar and continue cooking, about another ten minutes.  Add up to ¼ cup of water if needed.

Add the eggplant and stew an additional five minutes until it thickens.  Remove from heat and add pine nuts. Cool and refrigerate over night.

Bring it back to room temperature before serving.  Serve over greens, plain or on toasted Italian bread.

Confesso, io amo tutte le cose l’Italia

Italian Cuisine

Italian Cuisine (Photo credit: Thomas Hawk)

It’s time to confess, I love all things Italian!  The food, the people, the country (oh the country.) So imagine my bliss when I stumbled upon  A food and photography blog, which while written in Italian, has English recipes…and thanks to Google translate you can read it in any language.

Go there as fast as your fingers can click, and find gorgeous photos of food and Italy…can you say food porn?  And recipes like Codfish (Baccala) Risotto with Saffron and Calzoncelli with chocolate, chickpeas and figs.

Shrimp Francaise

Raw shrimp, ready for cooking.

I’ve been dying to make Shrimp and Grits and finally got around to buying some grits.  I was all set to make it for dinner tonight but was told by the Golden child that “ugh, I don’t like grits”.  Time for plan B.  He suggested Shrimp Piccata, but I decided to take it a step further and make it Francaise style, which basically means dipped in flour and egg and sauteed.

This is an adaptable recipe.  Use the same method on any kind of fish, chicken cutlets, pork, veal, even vegetables.  Serve with pasta (I just tossed some rotelli with a bit of olive oil and 1/3 cup of grated parmesan cheese) and a salad or green vegetable (I made  roasted broccoli.)

I’ll make the Shrimp and Grits later in the week.

1 lb peeled and deveined shrimp

1/2 cup all purpose flour

2 eggs, beaten with 1 TBS water

1/2 cup white wine

1/2 cup chicken stock

3 TBS lemon juice

1/4 cup cream (you could use evaporated milk or soy milk)

2 TBS butter

1 TBS flour

Oil to cover the bottom of the pan

Pat shrimp dry with a paper towel and dredge in flour.  Coast with egg, and then in flour again.

Heat oil in pan.

Add shrimp to the fry pan in batches but be careful not to crowd.  Saute until both sides are a medium golden brown.  Remove from pan, and continue until all the shrimp are done.

Pour out all but a little bit of oil, and deglaze pan with wine over medium heat.    Add chicken stock and lemon juice.  Stir for two minutes.

Mix four and butter, and add to pan juices to thicken.  Add more chicken stock as needed, and more lemon juice to taste.

Add cream and stir.  Take pan off heat.

Return shrimp to pan to coat.


Eggplant “Fries”

Česky: Lilek vejcoplodý Deutsch: Aubergine Eng...

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve always been a fan of fried eggplant, but as I become more health conscious I’m less inclined to actually fry foods.  So I was determined to come up with a recipe for eggplant that was not oily, crunchy but not dried out, with just the right amount of creamy center.  After a bit of experimentation, here’s what turned out to be perfectly yummy!  I serve it just as is for a side dish, but have also used it on pizza, a delicious combo eggplant/chicken parmesan dish, and as an interesting addition to a panzanella salad.

1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/4″ x 2″ sticks

3 TBS vegetable oil

1 TBS kosher salt (can use coarse grain sea salt as well)

4 TBS flour

2 eggs, beaten with 1 TBS water

1-1/2 cups Italian flavored Panko breadcrumbs

3/4 cup regular bread crumbs

3 tsp garlic powder (or to taste)

Preheat over to 300 F.

Add oil to bottom of a sheet pan and distribute.

Place cut eggplant into a colander and sprinkle with salt.  Toss to distribute.  Leave for at least 20 minutes.

Set up three bowls:  1) with beaten egg, 2) with mixure of panko and regular breadcrumbs plus garlic powder and 3) with flour

Toss 1/4 of the eggplant in flour mixture at a time.  Make sure they are all coated.

Toss floured eggplant in egg mixture.  Shake off any excess and toss with breadcrumb mixture.

Put breaded eggplant sticks on oiled sheet, making sure they are in an even layer.

Bake for 15 minutes.  Turn and bake another 10-15 minutes.

Remove from oven and enjoy!