Vegetable Stew

Caponatina

In this classic Italian dish, vegetables are slowly stewed together to bring out the flavor of each ingredient to its fullest. Salt is added in stages, as described in Basic Techniques, which helps bring out the flavor of each vegetable. Caponatina can be served as a side dish, an appetizer, or on toasted canapés as an hors d’oeuvre.

Preparation time: 25 minutes
Total time from start to finish: hours

Ingredients

  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1 pound eggplant
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 pound zucchini
  • 1 pound ripe tomatoes or 2 cups canned whole peeled tomatoes with their juice
  • 12 basil leaves

Method

  1. Peel, halve, and thinly slice the onion crosswise. Put the onion, olive oil, and crushed red pepper in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Season lightly with salt and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onion turns a rich golden color, about 10 minutes.
  2. While the onion is sautéing, finely chop the garlic. Peel the eggplant and cut into 1-inch cubes. When the onion is ready, add the garlic and stir for a few seconds. Add the eggplant, season lightly with salt, and cover the pan. Cook until the eggplant starts to become tender but is not completely cooked through, about 10 minutes.
  3. While the eggplant is cooking, core, seed, and peel the pepper. Cut away any white pith inside the pepper and cut into 1×½-inch strips. Cut off the ends of the zucchini and cut into ½-inch dice. Put the pepper and zucchini in the pan, season with salt, and cook, covered, for about 5 minutes.
  4. Peel the ripe tomatoes if using. Cut the fresh or canned tomatoes into ½-inch dice. Coarsely chop the basil. Add the tomatoes and basil to the pan and cook, uncovered, until all of the liquid is evaporated and the vegetables are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl or platter and set aside to cool. Serve at room temperature.

Note

This dish can be made 1 to 2 days ahead and refrigerated. Remove from the refrigerator 1 to 2 hours before serving to bring the vegetables to room temperature.

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