I sat down to write this post about 45 minutes ago, and in that time I’ve dumped the trash, fed the chickens, made cinnamon raisin bread, replaced my empty Kleenex box, and filled my salt shakers. And still a blank page.
I don’t quite understand it, because it seems like I could fill 5 or 6 pages gushing about my roasted pepper caponata, but maybe that’s the problem… I’m terrified of boring you. Do you really want to read 17 paragraphs about how traditional caponata is made with eggplant and is called a relish, but I made it with roasted red peppers and prefer to call it a condiment? Or how the flavor profile is startlingly intense yet bright, and how that is achieved by the balance of sweet (sugar), sour (vinegar), salty (olives, capers), and bitter (cocoa powder – you read that right), and how amazing cocoa powder is in this?
Are you still with me? Hang in there, I’m almost done. I’ll go fast… I got the idea to make this after researching like 10 or 15 recipes and then settling on combining Mario Batali’s caponata and one from the Culinary School of the Rockies (I have their recipe database on my computer), and substituting sweet peppers for the eggplant and then roasting and peeling the peppers because I didn’t so much like the skins in there, and it took me a few tries to get the flavors just right, but I did and it was simply dreamy and so I put it on crostini and topped it with some goat cheese;
and I mixed it with penne pasta and sprinkled it with feta cheese and we loved it...
And I slathered it on pan-roasted cod and that was amazing;
But mostly I ate it straight out of the bowl because it’s just that good.
Roasted Pepper Caponata
1/4 cup olive oil.
4 large red peppers (or different colors)
1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
3 roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (or 1 can diced tomatoes, drained)
1 cup pitted green olives or kalamata olives, halved
1/4 cup capers in brine
2 anchovy filets
½ tsp Crushed red pepper
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ cup red or white wine vinegar or to taste
1 Tblsp sugar or to taste
1 Tblsp Dutch process cocoa or to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper or to taste
¼ cup chopped Italian parsley, roughly chopped.
Roast the peppers (over flame or under the broiler) until blackened. Let cool and then peel and slice them. Set aside.
Saute onion in the olive oil until they just begin to color. Add the peppers and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add the anchovies; smash into the olive oil and stir until they dissolve.
Add drained tomatoes, olives, capers and crushed red pepper and simmer for 5 minutes.
Reduce the heat to low and add the vinegar, sugar and cocoa powder. Simmer for a few minutes and then taste and adjust the seasonings.
The key to the flavor principle of caponata is the balance between the sugar (sweet), vinegar (sour), anchovies (salt), and cocoa and parsley (bitter).
Caponata is best made a day ahead and refrigerated overnight.
To serve, bring to room temperature. Serving suggestions: top crostini and sprinkle with goat cheese; mix with your favorite pasta and top with feta cheese; spoon on top of fish or chicken; eat out of a bowl with a fork :).
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