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A Gentle Balsamic Caponata

September 17, 1997|BEV BENNETT | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Bennett is the author of "Dinner for Two" (Barron's, 1994)

Caponata is one of Sicily's most famous dishes. Of the many versions, the classic one calling for a blend of tomatoes, onions, garlic, olives and eggplant in a marvelously balanced sweet and sour dressing is the most popular.

It's served in restaurants as a salad course and in homes as a side dish or vegetarian entree. It's also excellent with delicately seasoned chicken sausages.

My adaptation uses balsamic vinegar. The sweet-sour contrast isn't as pronounced as in some recipes but can be adjusted to taste. Like most stewed foods, caponata improves with age. Make it at least an hour before serving. If you make it a day in advance, bring it to room temperature before serving.

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CAPONATA

1 shallot, minced

1 Japanese eggplant, trimmed and diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 zucchini, trimmed and diced

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tomatoes, peeled and diced

1 to 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon capers, drained

2 tablespoons pitted, diced ripe olives

1 tablespoon chopped basil

Salt, pepper

Combine shallot, eggplant, bell pepper, zucchini and garlic with olive oil in skillet. Saute over medium heat until tender, about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and 1 tablespoon vinegar. Cover and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in capers, olives and basil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer 5 minutes.

Correct seasonings, adding additional 1/2 to 1 tablespoon vinegar if desired for sweet and sour taste. Serve at room temperature.

2 servings. Each serving:

189 calories; 285 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 15 grams fat; 15 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams protein; 1.80 grams fiber.

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GRILLED CHICKEN SAUSAGES WITH SOUR CREAM SAUCE

2 (1/4-pound) chicken sausages

1/4 teaspoon sugar

3/4 teaspoon prepared white horseradish

1 teaspoon mustard

3 tablespoons nonfat sour cream

Salt

Freshly ground pepper

Grill sausages about 5 inches from ash-covered coals until thoroughly cooked, about 5 minutes per side.

Stir together sugar, horseradish, mustard, sour cream, dash salt and pepper to taste in small bowl. Serve sausages hot with sauce on side.

2 servings. Each serving:

128 calories; 413 mg sodium; 20 mg cholesterol; 8 grams fat; 4 grams carbohydrates; 10 grams protein; 0.02 gram fiber.

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