I love this dish. Primarily because it evokes memories of Tuscany. Real food, made with love by hospitable people. The incredible flavor of caponata relies on the gentle, slow cooking of all the veggies and using plenty of extra-virgin olive oil. It requires patience. But it pays off in the wonderful aroma and deep flavor that develops in the process. I recommend making a full batch even if you are just cooking for one or two. Any leftovers are delicious on fish or bruschetta!
Caponata with Orzo
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 eggplant, salted for 30 minutes on each side and patted dry, ½ inch dice
1 red pepper or 2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and ½ inch dice
1 medium yellow onion, ¼ inch dice
1 tsp fresh minced garlic
1 c high-quality olives, pitted and sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 c uncooked orzo
Juice from ½ lemon
Optional: Arugula, fresh high-quality feta or Goat’s cheese
Heat oil over medium heat until it sizzles. Add onion, red pepper or tomato, and eggplant. Cook for 5-10 minutes, season with salt and pepper, then reduce the heat and allow mixture to slowly cook until veggies are very soft and almost create a paste. Add garlic and cook 10 more minutes. Cook orzo in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente. Strain and stir into caponata, along with olives and arugula (if using). Spoon into four bowls. Add herbs and cheese if desired (I really don’t think it needs it). Drizzle with more olive oil. Top with a squeeze of lemon juice or serve with lemon wedges.