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!
red wine vinegar
We’re just five days away from our Southwestern fiesta with friends, Cinco de Mayo! Searching for some salsas? This Roasted Eggplant Salsa was rescued out of my own recipe box—the one I’ve had for years stuffed with recipe clippings, potluck favorites and scribbles on scratch paper. It’s perfect for a Cinco celebration if you’re looking to add something a little different to your salsa spread this year. I’ve also included one of my favorite recipes for stand-out Salsa Fresca. It uses ingredients found in many diced tomato-based salsas, but you can heat it up or tone it down anyway you like. Then grab a chip and dive right in!
Bacon. It’s my favorite five letter word! In fact, when I was doing a lot of catering, bacon was my secret weapon. If it was a breakfast catering, I would make three times the amount requested, and it was never enough. For a lunch or dinner catering, I would make beer candied bacon as an appetizer and just pile it on a giant platter. Again, every crumb gobbled up. Never enough. Don’t know what to make for breakfast, lunch or dinner? Just add bacon somewhere in the dish, and you can bet it’ll be a hit. Here’s another idea that’ll get your taste buds sizzling—Bacon Jam. Just seeing those two words together, I knew it was going to be delicious, and I was not disappointed. Bacon Jam can be used in so many ways! It’s fantastic on a charcuterie board with lots of different cheeses, crackers and crustini. Bacon Jam also makes a wonderful condiment for a turkey burger! I cooked up a large ground turkey pattie, (beef is just as tasty) loaded it up with sliced tomato, lettuce, avocado, blue cheese dressing and then I slathered the pattie with bacon jam. YUM! It turned a very ordinary turkey burger into a super burger! A few things have to go right to get the perfect bacon jam. Cook the pieces of bacon until they are crispy. When the bacon foams up (that’s the bacon fat talking) that is a good indication that the bacon is just about done! Also, make sure to use sweet yellow onions, which add the natural sweetness to the salty bacon! Perfect combination! So, if bacon is your jam, Bacon Jam may be just the recipe to spread around!
Watch my How To Video for Bacon Jam here!