Fork Spoon Knife is the personal blog of Asha where she chronicles her journeys in food through stories, recipes and photographs. She can also be found doodling and sharing her experiences as below.

 
                        

Sicilian Caponata over Z'atared Lavash Crackers - PFB Challenge #2 and Velveteers

Sicilian Caponata

That's a long title, isn't it?! But then, I have so much to say! First off, I made it through the first cut of the FoodBuzz Project Food Blog 2010. YAY!! Thanks so much to everyone who voted and for all the lovely comments on my last challenge post and retweets! It's now time to show my cooking skills for the 2nd challenge.

For the second challenge, we were asked to pick an ethnic classic that is outside your comfort zone or are not as familiar with. You should include how you arrived at this decision in your post. Do your research then try to pull off successfully creating this challenge. Try to keep the dish as authentic as the real deal, and document your experience through a compelling post.

Lavash Crackers

Coincidentally, the dish of choice for this month's Velveteers challenge was the Sicilian Caponata. As I was mulling over what to make for the PFB, a light went on in my subconscious. I think it happened in my sleep (That happens often. I tend to think through things with amazing clarity, moments before I doze off!). Anyway, I woke up two days back thinking this would be the perfect dish to recreate for this challenge, for many reasons.

First of all, and I am rather pained to admit it, even though Italian cuisine offers me a comfort fix second only to Indian food, I have not ventured to cook much beyond pastas and risottos at home. So, Alessio's suggestion of the Caponata was not only timely but also inspiring!

Sicilian Caponata 1

Second, as I read more about the dish, I learnt it actually has Arabic origins. That only intrigued me further. What's more?! When I read through the recipe, I realised, with almost a jolt, so many similarities with the Parsi style of cooking (my in-laws)! The balance of sweet and sour achieved using sugar and vinegar is exactly the same principle and method followed in Parsi cuisine. Not surprising, after all, given their Persian roots.

Delving further, the eggplant in caponata is traditionally fried. My MIL does exactly that with her veggies when she makes her sweet and sour stew! I was hooked, line, sinker and bait! Little had I known, when I ventured near Sicily, that I would unearth more in common than an leaning towards good flavor!

The Caponata pays such a beautiful tribute to the freshness of each ingredient. The dish preserves each component in its simplistic form uncluttered by spices and yet delivers such a depth of flavor that is amazingly refreshing!

Lavash Crackers

Caponata is traditionally served on crostinis. I wanted to put my spin on this. Since the dish itself is soft textured, a pairing with something crunchy made sense. I decided to go with homemade crackers. For one, I haven't made them before and I just liked the idea of spooning the caponata with thin slices of crackers. For the flavor, I went along with the Mediterranean theme and used Z'atar to spice them up.

So, today, I present to you a traditional Sicilian Caponata resonant with the flavors of celery, olives, capers and eggplant served on Z'atar Lavash Crackers.

Voting for the second challenge opens on 27 september. I very much appreciate your comments and, ofcourse, votes! :).

Caponata served on cracker


Sicilian Caponata
(adapted from
here)

1 Holland eggplant, diced into 3/4 inch cubes
1 stalk of celery, diced into 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 medium Spanish onion
2 ripe tomatoes, peeled and crushed
1 T tomato paste
2 T black olives, pitted and quarteres
1 T capers, drained
2 T pine nuts
1 T sugar
1 T vinegar
chopped parsley for garnish
salt as per taste and oil as needed

Toss the eggplant with salt and set aside in a strainer to let the bitter juices flow out. Meanwhile, fry the celery in oil until cooked but not soft, about 2 minutes. Remove from oil and reserve.

In the same oil, saute onions until soft. Add the pine nuts, capers, olives and saute for a couple of minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes and paste and cook the mixture through. Remove from heat and set aside.

Rinse and pat dry the eggplant. Fry in hot oil until golden brown. Add the eggplant to tomato mixture and return to heat. Add the sugar, vinegar and 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Cook until the mixture thickens. Cool and then refrigerate. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Lavash Crackers recipe is from
Food & Wine.





49 comments:

  1. Beautiful photos Asha, and this definitely sounds like a dish I would love to eat although I have not tried to make it myself either. I also really love that you made your own crackers, impressive!

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  2. ooh!!! so inviting. Feel like grabbing from the pic:-)

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  3. Your caponata looks divine - the perfect snack!

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  4. That looks magnificent! The combination is awesome.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  5. Congrtas for making it through asha....U deserve it....I love ur photography and writing skills and the way u present ur food....goood luck.

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  6. Looks lovely. I saw your picture on Flickr before you published this post. :)
    The lavash is an excellent idea. Have made them before and the the softness and crunch is an experience.

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  7. I love the picture of the two perfect bites on the plate. Don't know how you manage to get it to stay in place. It sounds so fresh and tasty.

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  8. Beautifully done and gorgeous photos.

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  9. Mouthwatering and such beautiful pictures! Congrats on passing on the 2nd turn, this dish is lovely!

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  10. Isn't it interesting how food brings with it so much history and culture and ties everyone together! Love what you discovered and loved the recipe.
    Congratulation son getting thru the first round of PFB!
    Keep up the good work!

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  11. I love caponata and yours looks delicious!

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  12. Good luck with the competition! This dish sounds so lovely and full of flavour!

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  13. It sure has a great Arabic influence! Infact it sounds very similar to how Arabs make there eggplant minus the celery! What lovely pictures and wonderful dish. Oh and I love Zaatar I bet it tasted great. Congratulations babes, hope much more to come for ya! u got my vote;)

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  14. Gorgeous photos and gorgeous caponata. I have never made one myself. Lovely blog you have, I am a new reader. Best of luck in PFB!

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  15. Such a vibrant and zesty dish! Congratulations on making it through the first cut- though I am not surprised.

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  16. Looks like you hit another home run. This is a beautiful dish...delicious and a great presentation. Good luck!

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  17. It's not easy getting out of one's comfort zone but it is so rewarding when you can pull off something this authentic!

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  18. Looks good! The crostinis are made by you? They look so yummy :)

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  19. Well with this beautiful post and beautiful photos I am sure you will get through the second round in no time at all! Like you I guess most of my Italian dishes center around pasta and risotto but this looks like a perfect alternative!

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  20. Gorgeous photos for a nice dish. I am not particularly a fan of Caponata... a tad too salty for me, but you make me want to rediscover it! Good luck with round 2!!!

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  21. Sicily is such an amazing part of the ancient spice trade routes and your version just seems as fragrant as the areas rich history.

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  22. those sicilians have been conquered by everyone. where i live every third person is sicilian (my husband on the other hand is italian). this is a dish many friends make--it is lovely and so is your post.

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  23. Lovely clicks for this crispy treat, Asha!

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  24. stunning photography as usuall :)
    best of luck definatelly I will vote for you..

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  25. You have made very good choice for participation in this challenge! The presentation of the recipe is very beautiful!

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  26. I had not doubt that you'd advance to this next challenge..and on to the 3rd, I'm sure. We actually picked the same part of the world for #2. :-) As usual, your photography and writing are enviable. You won't need my vote but you have it anyway. :-)

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  27. i love caponata. Interesting served this way!

    (see my entry here: http://www.foodbuzz.com/project_food_blog/challenges/2/view/869)

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  28. Beautiful photos. I'll definitely have to try that recipe. Best of luck to you in the competition. You have my vote.

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  29. I love caponata - one of my favourite dishes and yours looks divine, as do your crackers. Gets my vote :-)
    Sue

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  30. Yes, yes, yes and yes! I love caponata and your version (as well as the photos) looks amazing. You've got my vote! Do i get a taste in return? :)

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  31. I love your blog. You know you got my vote :D

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  32. love these shots! we just voted for you!

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  33. Your photos never cease to amaze me Asha. Beautiful! I love when tackling a new cuisine that realization that there are such similarities to the methods familiar to the foods we are used to preparing - it really speaks to the the universality (is there a word?) of cooking! And I love how you made the crackers, too. You have my vote.

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  34. Wonderful recipe and photos! U ot my vote :)

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  35. Beautiful photos and a lovely choice for this challenge - I especially like the pairing of lavash crackers. Another vote heading your way - good luck!

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  36. Absolutely stunning, as always. I voted for you!

    Good luck! =)

    You can check out my PFB post at : http://www.foodbuzz.com/project_food_blog/challenges/2/view/864

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  37. Your photos are perfect. I liked hearing about how you arrived at caponata. Voting for you, hope it helps!

    Lick My Spoon

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  38. That looks divine! And stunning photography! Nice job! One vote from me! :-D

    The Young Foodie

    http://www.foodbuzz.com/project_food_blog/challenges/2/view/966

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  39. Beautiful entry...The dish, presentation and photos are great! Looking forward to seeing you in challenge #3 :)

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  40. sounds delicious i was already looking for a great egg plant recipe. already voted!!

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  41. Looks delish! And I love the photo. It's what prompted me to vote and check out your full post. Good luck!

    My entry in the competition: http://www.foodbuzz.com/project_food_blog/challenges/2/view/1008

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  42. great one...u have my vote...good luck!

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  43. It is looking good. Thanks for the recipe

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  44. The recipe worked fine. Just came again to say thanks

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  45. I am sure you will get through the second round in no time at all! Like you I guess most of my Italian dishes center around pasta and risotto but this looks like a perfect alternative!

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