Caponata or “you’ve got it made in the shade”

This is one of my all time favorite recipes straight out of my beat-up-and-falling-apart 1982 copy of the Victory Garden Cookbook by Marian Morash. A tattered treasure, the cover has fallen off, a chunk of the cover is missing and the pages look like someone (probably me) slobbered on them. Ancient pink post-a-notes mark favorite recipes and the edges of the notes have faded to yellow and been shredded. Eeeeeeeek! Anyway, this is not to be missed.

1 2 lb eggplant (or I used a few smaller to make about 2 pounds)
salt
3/4 C. olive oil
2 C. chopped onions
1 C. chopped celery
1 C. peeled and chopped tomatoes (in winter use a can of fire roasted chopped tomatoes)
1/2 C. pitted and halved green olives
1/4 C. rinsed and drained capers
1/4 C. pine nuts
1/2 C. red wine vinegar
1 T. sugar
pepper

Peel and cube eggplant into 3/4 inches pieces. Salt and let drain in a colander for 30 minutes, pat dry. Heat half the oil in a large frying pan. Saute half the eggplant until golden brown, 6-10 minutes. Remove eggplant to a strainer and let drain. Add the remaining oil, saute the rest of the eggplant, drain as before. In the same oil (add a little if needed) saute the onions and the celery until tender and then add the tomatoes. Cover and cook for 4-5 minutes, uncover and cook 5 minutes more. Add the eggplant, olives, capers and pine nuts. Heat the vinegar and sugar in another small pan until the sugar dissolves and then pour over the eggplant mixture. Simmer for another 5-10 minutes. Season to your liking and cool. Makes 7-8 cups. Swoon.

Note: this is great cold. And, if you need to stretch it when a pack of unexpecteds show up, toss it with some freshly cooked pasta, like ziti or rigatoni.

You can make up a batch of this on the weekend. House will smell awesome while you work your magic. Maybe whip up some chicken marbella (pronounced mar-bay-uh) to have on hand as well (recipe from the original Silver Palate cookbook). Add some crusty bread. Some crisp and cold wine. Shade. If you are feeling frisky, how about knocking out an order of grilled romaine? Drizzle that with some crispy cooked bacon and a vinaigrette, maybe a blue cheese crumble or two and wall-ah! You are the hero of the house. Damn, I am starving!

Oh, and a side note: I called the Garden and Gun offices today to get a copy of the premier issue of the mag. Sold out. Not one to be had. So, if someone out there has one, please oh please, send it my way. I would even go so far as to return it.

By the way, it is 8 pm and a mere 99 degrees in the shade.