From Chef Roberto Marotta, ARDO Restaurant
Eggplant, the versatile nightshade vegetable featured in this week’s cicchetti, was brought from India and China to Italy in the Middle Ages. Since then, it’s been grown year-round in the region and has become a staple of Italian cuisine.
2 large eggplants, cubed
2 red cornicello (red horn peppers), diced
3 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 medium onions, diced
½ cup pitted green olives, diced
3 tbsp raisins
2 tbsp pine nuts or almonds, chopped
1 tbsp capers
3 tbsp honey
½ cup + 1 ½ tbsp vinegar
3 tbsp peanut oil, divided
Sea salt, to season
Over medium-high heat, warm 2 tbsp peanut oil and sauté eggplant until tender. Using a slotted spoon to reserve some oil in the pan, remove eggplant cubes and set aside to drain over paper towel. Place pan back on burner and quickly fry carrots and celery for about 30-45 seconds, until warm but not soft. Remove and set aside. Place pan back over medium heat, add remaining peanut oil, and sauté onions and peppers until lightly browned and softened. Remove and add to carrots and celery, along with eggplant. Toss and lightly season with sea salt.
Toast raisins over medium heat in a dry pan, paying close attention to not burn. Add raisins, along with capers and chopped olives, to vegetables. Toss to combine.
In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, heat honey until lightly bubbling. Then, slowly stir in vinegar. (Some of the vinegar will evaporate.) Pour over vegetables and toss to combine. Cover, and place in fridge for at least two hours, and as long as overnight. Enjoy caponata on its own in small jars, as a side dish to your favourite fish or seafood, or spooned onto lightly grilled sourdough.
ABOUT THE CHEF
After working at renowned Toronto restaurants such as Terroni, Maialino Enoteca (now closed), and Nodo, Roberto opened ARDO Restaurant in 2016. The new restaurant focuses on the regional flavours of Sicilian cuisine, an homage to Roberto’s culinary heritage—raised in Milazzo, a port town on the northeast coast of Sicily, Roberto grew up seeing his mother prepare fresh food from the sea and land. The restaurant is named for Roberto and his wife Jacqueline’s son, Leonardo.
Bite is a biweekly feature on modellocanada.com, and is inspired by the Venetian tradition of serving cicchetti—small dishes to snack on with wine—at local bàcari.