Right about this time of the year in Arizona, we look at big, heavy meals and well, they just don’t look appetizing because of the heat. That’s when charcuterie boards and light bites are a welcome meal or appetizer. Caponata is the perfect choice for days like that; when noshing is the most satisfying. This dish called Caponata, a sweet and savory fresh vegetable sauté comes from the Sicilian side of my family, my father’s side. I’ve share with you before that I grew up in a civil war zone of sorts, between the North and the South. Momma is from Venice, (northern Italy) and Dad came from Trapani, the southernmost tip of Sicily’s “boot.” Friendly battles raged at the kitchen table all of my life, with the northern contingency (Mom) insisting that food from the north, like Risotto, Polenta and Osso Buco are much preferred over southern Italy’s Arancini, Calzones and of course, Caponata. Guess who was the big winner in the plate wars? Me! I loved it all, and didn’t mind the friendly fire of food one bit! Caponata is delicious either as an appetizer on toasted baguette slices or as or a light afternoon meal served over pasta or steamed rice. If you’ve heard the term “Agrodolce”, Caponata’s sauce is the perfect example. Its name comes from “agro” meaning sour and “dolce” meaning sweet. The sweetness comes from sautéed yellow onion and a little bit of sugar, while the sour is derived from the capers and vinegar. There are a whole lot of delicious flavors in between, and the best part is, you can make up a big batch and enjoy it all week long in various recipes. This week, Dad’s side wins the battle, but the Italian food war is far from over!
olive oil, divided
I appreciate wine so much more after this recipe. Not because there’s wine anywhere in the dish, but because it was the wine that loosened the lips of Mrs. Stebbins that finally got her to give up her secret recipe for the most scrumptious Barbecue Pork ever! I received the recipe and story from Chandler resident Ann Todd and I loved both so much I couldn’t wait to share them with you! “Jan, my mom, Liz Ramsey, makes this recipe for weddings– mine in fact! She also makes it for parties, picnics and other promotions.” Ann told the story of her Mom’s friend, Mrs. Stebbins who would sit in the front of her house cross legged, leaning against the door reading a novel and having a glass of wine in the sunshine. Ann’s Mom had Mrs. Stebbins’ Barbecue Pork at a party and really wanted the recipe. Mrs. Stebbins didn’t want to give it up because she didn’t want the secret out so that she could make it every time she had a party. However one afternoon after one of those reading and sipping in the sunshine sessions, she was a little loose-lipped and let the secret of her great barbecue pork out. She just walked into Liz’s kitchen and said, “Oooooo-kay!” If you’re looking for a delicious and hearty recipe for your Super Bowl spread this year, you’ve got a winner right here. Devour it and raise a glass to Mrs. Stebbins!
From my Momma’s kitchen to yours this Mother’s Day, here’s a favorite D’Atri family recipe. Momma’s Eggplant Parmesan Casserole is the ultimate comfort food, and as all moms know, casseroles are a secret weapon in the kitchen! They can be made ahead and frozen until ready for use. They feed a hungry crowd and they always seem to taste better the next day. My Momma figured out years ago how to get the eggplant softened and yet still have the pan-grilled flavor. Her homemade marinara sauce only takes twenty minutes to make from start to finish. The combination of the two is a match made in heaven! I think these days we are having a lot of family meals together and this is a great dish that can be enjoyed piping hot right out of the oven! Surprise Mom this year with a casserole of comfort!
Watch my How to Video Here!