Saturday, 17 November 2012

Caponata in gram flour pancakes

For some reason, I have never attempted to make caponata before.  I don't know why.  It combines many of my favourite things:  aubergines; olives; capers; tomatoes. 

I think it may be because I first had it, when cooked by my Italian best friend at university, who has been one of the big influences on me cooking-wise.  I wish I could say the same were true vice versa but I fear she still thinks I'm a barbarian with no tastebuds because of my general love for strong flavours.  It's not that she did a bad job when cooking it, it's more that I realised through cooking with her a lot that I just plain understood very little about non-Gujarati food at 18 and I found it all rather intimidating.
Funny-looking aubergine

Anyway.  I bought a funny-looking aubergine (see right) at the supermarket the other day - yes, I did buy it basically because it was funny-looking, yes, I do have a mental age of about 7 - and I thought I'd give it a go.

Anyway.  Caponata.  I went for a combination of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's recipe, a vague recollection of what my Italian friend did, and whim.

I chopped an onion, a couple of sticks of celery and three cloves of garlic.  Fried for a few minutes  Then added a tin of reasonably nice Italian tomatoes, some chopped green olives and some capers. 

onion, celery and garlic
chopped aubergines

Did a bit of seasoning at this stage (and tweaked and tasted at the end)-  some balsamic vinegar (about 3 table spoons) and about 4 table spoons of sugar.  Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall suggested only a table spoon of sugar but, to me, that just didn't taste quite right so I kept adding more until it did, and obviously salt and black pepper.  Left to reduce for around 15 minutes. 

Frying aubergines

While that was reducing, I chopped up a couple of aubergines into relatively small pieces (about 1.5 cm square) and fried until golden in some olive oil. 

I then combined the aubergine with the onions/celery/tomato mixture, Topped it with fresh parsley.  Though, I did think belatedly that rosemary would have been nice as well and might be worth a try next time.

gram flour pancakes batter
For no particular reason, I decided that it would be good to have the caponata in pancakes and I haven't made gram flour pancakes for ages, so that's what I went for.  Went for a gram flour/plain flour mix - 2:1 ratio - added a dash of milk, and then enough water to make it a pouring consistency (just slightly thicker than single cream), spiced it a bit with salt, chilli flakes and black pepper.

gram flour pancake about to be filled with caponata
Heated up about a table spoon of olive oil in a large frying pan, cooked the pancakes (it takes around a couple of mins each side, depending obviously on how thick you want your pancakes), filled them with the caponata and put them in the oven for about 5 mins to warm through before serving.

It was pretty good.  Nice fun dish to cook on a Sunday afternoon.  In retrospect, I'm not sure that it's really worth bothering with the pancakes - I think bread would have been just as nice with the caponata and a bit less of a faff but I like my gram flour pancakes so I don't really repine!

Gram flour pancakes with caponata

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