We have come to think of caponata as a Sicilian eggplant stew with celery, onions, tomatoes, capers, and pine nuts, usually served in an antipasto assortment. Doing some research on Sicilian food, I ran across a dish called caponata di verdure, which was described as a combination of cooked vegetables, such as cauliflower, celery, spinach, curly endive, chicory, spinach, and cardoons, dressed with olive oil and red wine vinegar, garnished with lemon slices, capers, strips of anchovy, and fried bread crumbs, and served at room temperature.
The dish sounded interesting, but I have noticed that Americans don’t take readily to a room temperature dish of cooked vegetables dressed with a vinaigrette and covered with anchovy strips, even if it is delicious. They prefer vegetables hot and salads cold. Nevertheless I was intrigued by the concept so I turned it into a salad dressed with a garlic and anchovy vinaigrette, and topped it with toasted bread crumbs. Sort of an Italian Caesar salad. Our diners have really taken to this. Of course, you may add Belgian endive or dandelion greens to this salad. You might even chop a few capers and add them to the vinaigrette or replace some of the vinegar with lemon juice. And you might to go all the way with the “Caesar” idea and sprinkle it with grated Parmesan cheese.