Caponata and Herb Polenta
- 2 tablespoons (2 turns around the pan) extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 cubanelle Italian long green pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 large sweet onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 ribs celery, chopped
- 1/2 cup large green olives, pitted and chopped
- 1/2 cup Kalamata black olives, pitted and chopped
- 1 (3-ounce) jar capers, drained
- 1/2 cup (a couple of handfuls) golden raisins
- 1 medium firm eggplant, diced
- 1 (32-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1 (14-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup quick-cook polenta, found in Italian foods or specialty foods aisles
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed and chopped
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves removed and chopped finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup grated Romano or Parmigiano
- Salt and pepper
- 6 cups mixed greens
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Serving suggestion: Mixed greens tossed with fresh herbs, dressed with oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper
Place the cutting board near the stovetop. Preheat a big, deep pot over medium heat. Add oil, garlic, and crushed pepper. As you chop vegetables (peppers, onion, and celery), add them to the pot. Once vegetables are in there, increase heat a bit.
Stir in olives, capers, and raisins. Salt the diced eggplant and stir into the pot. Add tomatoes, diced and crushed, to the pot and stir caponata well to combine. Cover pot and cook caponata 15 to 20 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Stir in parsley and remove pan from heat.
Polenta: Bring 3 cups chicken broth to a boil. Add polenta and stir constantly until the cornmeal masses together. Stir in herbs, butter, cheese, salt, and pepper.
Spread polenta out over a serving platter. Make a shallow well from the center out and fill with half of the prepared caponata. This stands as a complete dinner on its own, so rich with vitamins and fresh vegetables. Refrigerate the remaining caponata for a later use.
If you prepare a salad, keep it simple. Dress mixed greens with oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Caponata can also be used as a bruschetta topping.