During every one of many Sicily sojourns over the years, more than one meal has featured la caponata. But what a tasty one we had recently in Tuscany, made by our Sicilian friend, Melina. Generally made stove-top, Melina’s caponata was a buonissimo oven-baked vegetable medley.
I had to try it. Opportunity came along recently thanks to the gift of friends, Mary and Renato: a wicker basket of vegetables right from their garden in the Assisi countryside:
Umbria vegetables thus link with Sicily know-how in this tasty vegetable medley. Do take advantage of the summer vegetable season to try this Sicilian dish, “the Melina way.” (Note: as Melina stresses, the varieties and amounts of vegetables depend on you and what’s in the garden. Enjoy experimenting….)
Caponata alla Melina
Ingredients (for a baking pan of caponata):
2 bell peppers
2 medium-sized potatoes
2 stalks celery, cut into small pieces
2 medium-sized carrots, sliced
8 – 10 very ripe small tomatoes
1 onion, sliced
Extra virgin olive oil, q.b. (“quanto basta” or “as much as you need”)
1 T capers under salt (Sicilian, if possible!)
1 T pine nuts
handful of currants
one or two chili peppers
fresh basil, 10 – 12 leaves
balsamic vinegar, q.b.
Pre-heat oven to 375 F. Wash all vegetables. Cut potatoes into small chunks. Cut celery into small pieces and slice carrots and onions.
Line baking tin with waxed pepper and drizzle with olive oil:
(….and with a touch of “Sicilian creativity,” Pino used a piece of the eggplant to rub the oil on the waxed paper!)
Add vegetables to baking pan and stir in chopped basil leaves, capers, and chili peppers. Sprinkle lightly with salt and drizzle a bit of balsamic vinegar over the vegetable mixture. Add a touch of olive oil, if necessary..
Slide baking tin into hot oven and bake about 20 minutes. Check to see if additional salt needed and add pine nuts and currants. Bake about another twenty minutes or until vegetables soft (though not mushy). Raise heat a bit if you wish to brown vegetables on the top.