My next recipe comes from a Sicilian cookbook that my sister bought for me while she was in Sicily. She got to go on a Mediterranean cruise with my aunt. I was very, very jealous of this because I had wanted to go but couldn’t because of school. I did get to go to Italy eventually, however. My aunt took me on another visit where I even got to meet my distant Italian relatives.
My Italian side is from a small town called Fontana Liri, which is south of Rome and the birthplace of a famous Italian actor Marcello Mastroianni. I’m guessing you don’t know who that is, but you’ve probably seen his face. He is the lead actor in La Dolce Vita.
Fontana Liri is gorgeous as you can see from my picture below. My relatives didn’t speak any English, but we had an Italian friend who translated for us. They were extremely nice and accommodating. A lot of relatives came over for a family dinner where we were served Spaghetti alla Carbonara as well as some other amazing Italian foods. After dinner the male relatives gave me a shot of grappa which I found to be very strong. Grappa is supposed to help you digest a meal which is why it is served after dinner. My face after sipping it was very comical to my male relatives. I didn’t understand what they said to me, but I knew they were teasing me about it.
The reason I’m mentioning all of this is because the paternal side of my family migrated to Fontana Liri from Sicily. Which means I’m part Sicilian which is one of the reasons my sister knew that I would love a Sicilian cookbook. I have always been a bit obsessed with my Italian heritage. I tend to be a little jealous of people who have more Italian blood than me.
Unfortunately my blood is not Sicilian enough to appreciate anchovies. Sicilians love anchovies and most of the recipes in this book contain those salty, weird little fishes. I hate anchovies. I tried them once. Never again.
Thankfully Eggplant Caponata contains no anchovies at all nor is it difficult to make. You fry the eggplant in a pan for a bit and then you add sliced onion, olives, and capers. Saute that for a few and then you add a little bit of tomato sauce, basil, and a pinch of sugar and vinegar.
I prefer to eat this side dish warm, but it is traditionally served cold. I prefer most of my food warm. I’m very American like that. No disrespect to my Sicilian ancestors.
This is also traditionally a side dish, but for my leftovers I got creative. I used it as a topping on some brauts and I made a baked veggie sandwich with parmesan cheese. I’m sure people will question the decision of putting eggplant on a sausage, but trust me, it was actually pretty good. The sandwich, however, is a no-brainer good idea. At least I think so.