Caponata (Sicilian-style summer vegetables)

Bursting with fresh summer flavors, Caponata is one of my favorite dishes to make when eggplant, tomatoes, and basil come into season.

I first tasted Caponata at a class on Italian side dishes at Cook Like An Italian led by Monica Pesoli. She cooked each main ingredient separately, then simmered them together with white wine vinegar and fresh herbs. Caponata is full of distinct flavors that go perfectly together.

More recently, I’ve been going through Lidia Bastianich’s 2017 cookbook Lidia’s Celebrate Like An Italian and discovered her Caponata recipe. The recipe below is based on the one in her book. You can serve it as a side dish (warm or chilled) or as an appetizer (after it is cooled, chop into small pieces and serve on crostini).

Caponata (Sicilian Style Summer Vegetables)
 
Caponata is the perfect Italian dish to make when eggplant, tomatoes, and fresh basil are in season. Enjoy as a side dish (warm or chilled) or appetizer (chopped and served on crostini).
Author:
Recipe type: Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Ingredients
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium eggplant, ½ inch cubes
  • 1 medium zucchini, ½ inch cubes
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, peeled, seeded, cut into ½ inch squares
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • ¼ cup pitted green olives, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons organic sugar (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped
Instructions
  1. Heat large sauté pan over medium heat for about 1 minute. Add ¼ cup olive oil, then add eggplant in a single layer. You can do two batches if all of the eggplant does not fit in a single layer. Sauté eggplant, letting it turn golden brown on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon to a large prep bowl.
  2. Add remaining ¼ cup olive oil, and repeat with zucchini. Remove zucchini with a slotted spoon (to leave oil in the pan) to the bowl with the eggplant.
  3. Add onion and celery to the pan and sauté about 5 minutes.
  4. Add red bell pepper, raisins, olives, capers, pine nuts, sea salt, and red pepper flakes and sauté until vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add tomatoes, white wine vinegar, and sugar (if using). Simmer until liquid has evaporated and tomatoes are well incorporated.
  6. Add fresh herbs and toss together.

 

 

The last few summer menus I made with caponata included:

  • Wild salmon, polenta, caponata, and grilled broccolini
  • Pacific rock cod with capers and white wine sauce, risotto, caponata, and caprese salad
  • Ocean perch with white wine sauce, basmati rice, caponata, and caprese salad

Photo of eggplant dish caponataPhoto of Italian meal with caponata

Some other summertime dishes you may want to try:

Provençal Vegetable Soup with Tomato-Basil Pesto (Soupe Au Pistou)

Grilled Halibut in Cedar Wraps

Baby Arugula Salad with Berries and Lemongrass Mint Vinaigrette

Asian Mushroom Lettuce Wraps (V, GF, soy-free)

Southwestern Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing

 

Summertime Buckwheat Salad with Lemon Dill Dressing

 

Buon appetito!

 

Fresh Cranberry Sauce with Orange and Ginger

cranberry sauce

Cranberry sauce is a beautiful accompaniment for holiday meals, and so much better than any of the canned varieties. Fresh cranberries are sweetened with raisins and apple juice and flavored with orange and ginger, to give it a fresh, zesty taste. There is minimal prep involved, and the recipe can be doubled if you are feeding a crowd!

Homemade Cranberry Sauce
 
Prep time
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Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Serves: 12 servings
Ingredients
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 1½ cups apple juice
  • 2 cups cranberries
  • pinch unrefined sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated (or more to taste)
Instructions
  1. In medium saucepan, cook raisins in apple juice for about 10 minutes. Add cranberries and sea salt.
  2. Cover, turn down to low, and simmer until cranberries have popped.
  3. Remove lid and reduce sauce to desired consistency. Keep in mind that sauce will gel more when refrigerated.
  4. Remove from heat. Stir in orange zest and ginger juice.

I like to use a microplane zester for both the orange zest and grated ginger. Be careful to very lightly zest the very outer portion of the orange peel, so that you don’t get the bitter white pith in your sauce. Sometimes I will squeeze the juice out of the grated ginger pulp and add that to the sauce rather than including the pulp.

Here is a meal using fresh cranberry sauce that I have been making for my students at The Natural Epicurean to demonstrate Fall Macrobiotic Cooking and Menu Planning. Clockwise from the top: millet-cauliflower mash with mushroom sauce, nishime style vegetables and pan-fried tempeh, fresh cranberry sauce, daikon pickle, and blanched greens with tahini-parsley dressing.

cranberry-sauce
Fall macrobiotic meal featuring fresh cranberry sauce with orange and ginger

Enjoy!

Macrobiotic Macaroni and Cheese

vegan, gluten free, macaroni and cheese

Macaroni and cheese is the ultimate comfort food! When the weather starts to turn cold, give this hearty vegan version a try. It is packed with nutrients from winter squash, carrots, and miso, and contains no cheese substitutes like nutritional yeast or soy-based cheeses.It can easily be made gluten-free by using a gluten-free variety of pasta. Although this recipe does not fall into the “quick and easy” category, it is worth the effort as it is so nourishing and delicious!

There are some ingredients that need explaining in this recipe.

  1. Be sure to use raw cashews. When soaked, raw cashews will become soft and can be blended to create a very creamy texture. For savory dishes, discard the sweet soaking water.
  2. Kombu is used in preparing the squash and carrots for the cheese sauce. It is a sea vegetable high in iodine and other beneficial minerals and enhances the flavor of whatever you are cooking.
  3. Ume plum vinegar (a.k.a. umeboshi vinegar) is a healthful sour and salty condiment that adds amazing flavor to sauces and dressings, and is actually not technically a vinegar (it is the salt brine used to pickle the ume plum). You can find it in the Asian aisle of most health food stores, or you can purchase it online. The Eden brand is most easy to find.
  4. Red or sweet white miso is called for in this recipe to create the cheesy taste of the sauce. Red miso will give more depth of flavor, more like an aged cheddar cheese, and sweet white miso will give a lighter flavor, more like an American cheese. Be sure to use miso that is unpasteurized and made with sea salt like Miso Master or South River Miso. In Austin, you can get both varieties of miso at Wheatsville Coop.
  5. Natto is made from fermented soybeans and has many health benefits. It gives a depth of flavor to the dish that cannot be achieved otherwise. My favorite natto can be ordered online from Mugumi Natto. It is the only organic brand I have been able to find. It freezes well if you would like to order several packages. You can also make your own by purchasing powdered natto starter.
  6. Unsweetened, whole grain mochi is made of steamed sweet brown rice that is pounded until smooth and formed into squares to dehydrate and store. It is 100% whole grain, naturally gluten-free, high in protein, and can be grated and seasoned to use as a topping for casseroles and pizzas. Granaissance, Mitoku, and Eden all make mochi. In Austin, we can find the Eden brand of mochi at Central Market. Grainaissance mochi is more crumbly when grated whereas the Eden and Mitoku brands can be grated into longer shreds, but either one will work in this recipe.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Macrobiotic Macaroni and Cheese
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
Macaroni and "Cheese" Sauce
  • ¼ cup raw cashews
  • 3 cups kabocha or butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 2 cups carrots, cut into1/2-inch rounds
  • 1-inch piece of kombu
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons ume plum vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon unpasteurized red or sweet white miso
  • 1 tablespoon natto (Megumi brand recommended)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • spring or filtered water
  • 12 ounces elbow macaroni, cooked until al dente and drained
Mochi "Cheese" Topping
  • 2 cups plain mochi, grated coarsely
  • 2 teaspoons red or sweet white miso
  • 1 teaspoon ume plum vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • spring or filtered water
Instructions
Macaroni and "Cheese" Sauce
  1. Soak cashews in water for several hours. Drain and set aside.
  2. In heavy pot with lid, place ½ cup water, kombu, squash, carrots, and a pinch of sea salt. Cover and bring to a boil over medium heat. Turn to low and cook about 15 minutes, or until vegetables are tender and easily pierced with a fork. Remove kombu from cooked vegetables.
  3. To make the “cheese” sauce, place the squash, carrots, and their cooking liquid into a food processor along with the soaked and drained cashews, umeboshi vinegar, miso, natto (if using), garlic, and olive oil. Blend until smooth, adding water if needed to get the consistency of a thick soup. Taste for seasonings. If carrots and squash are super sweet, you may need to add a little more miso, sea salt, umeboshi vinegar, and/or olive oil to achieve a more savory flavor.
  4. Place cooked and drained macaroni elbows back into cooking pot. Add “cheese” sauce to coat macaroni. Pour macaroni and “cheese” into an oiled baking dish.
Mochi "Cheese" Topping
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Mix together grated mochi, miso, ume plum vinegar, olive oil, and enough water to thoroughly moisten the mochi (about ½-3/4 cup). Spread mochi mixture on top of the macaroni and “cheese” and bake, covered, for 20-30 minutes (it should be starting to bubble around the edges). Remove foil and melt mochi under the broiler for 2 minutes or until it turns golden brown. Watch closely to avoid burning!

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Smashed Potatoes with Tomato Sauce Grassoise

Summer tomatoes! This is the best time to cook with your homegrown or farmer’s market vine-ripened tomatoes. Try this simple but elegant recipe by Chef Alain Braux, originally from the Provence region of France. Chef Braux is a French Chef by training and a Culinary Nutritionist by passion. He is the lead instructor for the Food as Medicine course at The Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts. He is also an award-winning, Amazon best-seller food and health author.

Feel free to visit Chef Braux’s website, A Votre SantéMedia PageBooks Page. You can also find him on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter.

Smashed Potato with Tomato Sauce Grassoise
 
This simple yet striking recipe smells of my Provençal countryside. I hope you like it as much as I do.
Recipe type: Side Dish
Cuisine: French
Serves: 2 servings
Ingredients
Potatoes
  • 8 small fingerlings potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 quart water, boiling
  • sea salt, coarse
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
Tomatoes
  • 6 organic tomatoes, peeled
  • 2 quarts water, boiling
Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled, cut in ½, crushed
  • 1 shallot, minced finely
  • 1 pinch sea salt.
  • two turns of freshly ground pepper
  • 2 piquillos, finely cut
  • 1 tablespoons capers
  • 6-8 pitted black olives, chopped
Small salad
  • a few leaves mixed greens
  • 5 mint leaves
  • 1 tablespoon flat parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chives
Lemon dressing for salad mix
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • crushed black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Instructions
Smashed potatoes
  1. Bring salted water to boil. Cook until tender. Drain. Place back in pot. Crush with potato masher, olive oil, sea salt and pepper. Keep warm.
Tomatoes
  1. Bring water to boil. Cut a small cross at the bottom if each tomato. Boil for one minute then drop in iced water. Drain. Peel. Cut in half. Take seeds out. Dice small.
Sauce
  1. In medium saucepan, heat olive oil at medium heat. Add garlic and shallot to pot 1 Tbsp olive oil. Cook until translucid. Add cut tomatoes. Add piquillos, capers and black olives. Allow to simmer to reduce liquid. When cooked, added chopped fresh herbs. Mix in. Reserve.
Salad
  1. Pick a few salad leaves with herbs. Toss them lightly with lemon dressing.
Plating
  1. Using a metal ring, place crushed potatoes inside the ring to form a galette. Top with tomato sauce Grassoise. Decorate with a few mint leaves.
Finish
  1. Add salad/dressing on the side of potato/tomato dish. Voila!

 

White Bean and Tuna Salad (Insalata di Fagioli e Tonno)

We continue “Eat Your Way Through Summer” with a couple of tasty authentic Italian recipes by Monica Pesoli, owner of Like An Italian cooking and language school in Austin, Texas. If you haven’t met Monica yet, you must change that! For more information about her cooking classes, visit her Facebook page, Cook Like An Italian!

White Bean and Tuna Salad (Insalata di Fagioli e Tonno)
 
A hearty and flavorful side dish to be served with the second course, the meat course. Recipe is courtesy of Monica Pesoli, owner of "Like An Italian" cooking and language school in Austin, Texas. Monica recommends Montebello brand all organic olive oil and Cento brand tuna. Note: you must start this recipe the day before to allow the beans to soak overnight.
Recipe type: Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
Beans
  • ½ lb. dried cannellini or navy beans
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • ½ medium yellow onion
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
Salad
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 5.5-ounce can tuna in olive oil, drained
  • 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
Instructions
  1. Soak beans overnight. Drain soaking water.
  2. Finely chop the onion. In a 4 quart pot, heat ghee to medium. Add onion and sauté 3-5 minutes.
  3. Two minutes before onion is translucent add garlic, oregano and drained beans. Sauté another 2 minutes.
  4. Add water to cover by 3 inches. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until tender (45–50 min), stirring often to prevent beans from sticking to bottom of pot.
  5. Drain beans, reserving ¼ cup of cooked liquid.
  6. Whisk together oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl.
  7. Combine vinegar mixture with beans and reserved cooked liquid; transfer to a serving bowl.
  8. Top chunks of tuna, sprinkle with parsley.

 

Indian Cauliflower and Green Pea Curry

This dish is typically made with tomatoes and chili peppers, but has been made nightshade-free using butternut squash and umeboshi vinegar in place of tomatoes.  It is still wonderfully flavorful with the unique blend of fresh and dried spices, including anti-inflammatory turmeric. My family made this last night in a hurry, thanks to having half a cauliflower already cut into florets in the refrigerator. It makes enough for leftovers that are very tasty too!

Cauliflower and Green Pea Curry
 
Author:
Recipe type: Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian
Ingredients
  • 1 small head cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 1½ cups frozen green peas
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced and halved
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, grated
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil or ghee
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • ¾ teaspoon garam masala
  • ¾ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ground coriander
  • ½ tablespoon mango powder
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar
  • seeds of 2 cardamom pods
  • ¾ cup cashew cream or coconut milk
  • 1½ cups butternut squash puree
  • 1 teaspoon umeboshi vinegar
  • sea salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Cook the cauliflower florets and peas in boiling water until tender. Drain.
  2. Saute onion, garlic, and ginger in safflower oil or ghee until soft and golden.
  3. Add mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, tumeric, garam masala, coriander, mango powder, agave nectar, cardamom seeds, and cashew cream or coconut milk and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Add butternut squash puree and umeboshi vinegar and simmer 3-4 minutes. Add cauliflower and peas and simmer a few minutes more. Taste and adjust seasoning with sea salt as needed.
  4. Serve with rice.

 

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