Fennel, Aubergine and Artichoke Caponata

Fennel, Aubergine and Artichoke Caponata

  • 4
  • Easy

A delicious and easy-to-prepare mix of fennel bulb, aubergine and globe artichokes that is perfect for sharing with friends. Photograph Andrew Montgomery.

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Caponata is a Sicilian dish, but for me it is a reminder of Israel. It is exactly the kind of thing I put together when cooking with my friends Lior and Ayala in Jerusalem. Like me, they are interested in bringing different flavours together and in making the most of whatever is in season. We would often go to the market just before the beginning of Shabbat to pick up whatever has not sold out. It is a great test of culinary ingenuity. You can make this versatile dish with fresh vegetables if you have them, or preserved if you don’t, and serve it as a vegetarian main course with some good bread, for lunch with an egg on top or as a side dish to accompany any roasted or grilled meat or fish.

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Ingredients

  • Rapeseed oil 4tbsp
  • Onion half, finely chopped
  • Globe artichokes 4, (or 200g prepared artichoke hearts in olive oil, drained)
  • Lemon juice to prevent discolouration (if using fresh artichokes)
  • Garlic 2 cloves, finely chopped
  • spring onions 2, chopped
  • Small fennel bulb 1, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • Aubergine 1, peeled using a vegetable peeler, then cut into 1.5cm cubes
  • Tomatoes 3, diced
  • Tinned chopped tomatoes 4tbsp
  • Red wine vinegar 4tbsp
  • Capers 2tbsp, drained and rinsed
  • Toasted pumpkin seeds 2tbsp
  • Basil 1tbsp, finely chopped
  • Flat-leaf parsley 1tbsp, finely chopped
  • Lemon thyme 1tbsp, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Toasted bread to serve

Method

  • Step 1

    Heat the oil in a large frying pan or skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, cover and leave for 10 minutes to sweat down, stirring every so often.

  • Step 2

    Meanwhile, prepare the globe artichokes, if using. Remove the leaves until only the innermost leaves and hearts remain. (You can keep the outer leaves to steam and then eat with vinaigrette or aioli – delicious.) Trim the stems and hard leaf remnants around the bottoms, and use a vegetable peeler to peel the stems, removing the tough exterior. Chop the hearts in half and use a spoon to remove the hairy chokes. Cut in half again so you are left with quarters of artichoke heart. If you are not using them immediately, rub with a little lemon juice to stop discolouration.

  • Step 3

    Add the garlic, spring onions, fennel, aubergine, tomatoes (fresh and tinned), artichoke hearts, vinegar, capers and pumpkin seeds to the frying pan with the onion, cover and simmer for 10 minutes, or until all the vegetables are tender but not too soft.

  • Step 4

    Add the herbs and cook, uncovered, for another 5 minutes to allow the flavours to combine. Season with salt and pepper and serve warm or at room temperature, spooned over toasted bread.

This recipe is taken from Grow Fruit & Vegetables in Pots by Aaron Bertelsen (Phaidon, £24.95).

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