07 October 2010

Sicilian Caponata with Feta

I recently found myself in the possession of a pair of slender eggplants, the color of Willy Wonka's suit in the original Gene Wilder flick. They were so pretty I wasn't terribly keen on chopping them up, but knew I needed something special to highlight the early-fall beauties. 
The recipe is courtesy of Jamie Oliver, who recently won new found American notoriety with his campaign to de-glob the overweight in West Virginia. His need for attention in the crusade to bring healthy eating habits to the masses has long been familiar to Britons, with "Jamie's Ministry of Food" -- a precursor to the U.S. series/campaign in which he tries to infuse a single town with cooking skills and knowledge about fresh food. I'm torn when it comes to Jamie and his campaigning. On the one hand, Americans and British alike could stand to improve their eating habits, and much of Jamie's work on these television shows highlights teaching people how to cook, which is a big stumbling block for many in taking control over their daily eating habits. On the other hand, I can't get away from the gnawing feeling that he's making money off from televising chubby kids and their struggles with weight, (and then raking in even more dough with a companion cookbook), and blubbering on camera about the residents of West Virginia not believing in his sincerity.
Either way, I have no argument with the fact that the guy can put together a recipe, which oftentimes seem an unlikely mess as you are following his instructions (note: onion and cheese salad of late highlighted on "Jamie at Home") but by the time it is all assembled on your plate it is completely delicious. Exhibit A. Caponata (with the addition of feta cheese). 

Sicilian Caponata with Feta
Adapted from Jamie Oliver

olive oil
2 nice large purple eggplant, cut into large chunks
1 heaped teaspoon dried oregano
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
a small bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and stalks finely chopped
2 tablespoons salted capers, rinsed, soaked and drained
a handful of green olives, stones removed
2–3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 large ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
optional: 2 tablespoons slivered almonds or pine nuts, lightly toasted
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

In a large pan, pour in 2 tablespoons olive oil, over medium heat. Add the eggplant chunks and oregano, season with a little salt and stir till the eggplant is evenly coated by the oil and spices. Cook on a high heat for around 4 or 5 minutes, giving the pan a shake occassionally. When the aubergines are golden on each side, add the onion, garlic and parsley stalks and continue cooking for another couple of minutes. If

Add the drained capers and the olives and drizzle with vinegar. When all the vinegar has evaporated, add the tomatoes and simmer for around 15 minutes or until tender. Taste before serving and season if you need to with salt, pepper and a little more vinegar. Drizzle with some good olive oil and serve sprinkled with the chopped parsley leaves, feta, and almonds or pine nuts.

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