I’ve fallen a little in love with eggplants. And maybe a little in love with Inspector Montalbano too. The books and TV episodes aren’t just smart and witty detective mysteries, they’re also a tribute to the glories of Sicilian food.
You can serve Caponata in so many ways
And so we come to the eggplant, or aubergine, or melanzana, and a dish which is waiting for Montalbano when he comes home for lunch. Montalbano enjoys a light lunch of caponata with an artichoke/spinach pistaccio.
Back in the house, he opened the refrigerator. Adelina must have come down with an acute form of vegetarianism. Caponata and a sublime pasticcio of artichokes and spinach. He set the table on the veranda and wolfed down the caponata as the pasticcio was heating up. Then he reveled in the pasticcio.
—The Paper Moon (Inspector Montalbano Mysteries)
Caponata. It’s somewhere between a salad and a stew.
You can pile caponata on top of fresh crusty bread for a perfect lunch. Use more liquid and pour it as a sauce over pasta for a hearty vegetarian dinner, or on its own in a bowl with bread to dip on the side.
How to Prepare the Eggplants
You can steam eggplants, or eat them fried, stir-fried, boiled, sauteed or cooked in the microwave. If you’re feeling creative, stuff them. I like to bake mine.
Like its cousin, the tomato, the eggplant has edible thin skin, so peeling is your choice. If you leave the skin on, you add colour and interest. Peeling off the skin gives you a smoother texture.
To avoid any hint of a bitter taste, slice, salt and then rinse. Eggplants can soak up large amounts of cooking fats and oils but the salting process will reduce the amount absorbed.