Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Flavors: The Best Caponata Sandwiches Ever

Caponata Sandwiches (01) by MeetaK

This morning as I opened the double patio windows I was greeted by a fresh warm breeze. There was something in the air – the freshness of the damp rain from the previous night, the warmth, the fragrance of subtle summer flowers, that took me back to a vacation in Bombay.

I was about 16 and we were vacationing in Bombay (back then it was still Bombay). The monsoons had hit the city and although there was chaos in the city below, sitting in my aunt’s balcony overlooking the blue ocean across Juhu Beach, I could not help but find pure pleasure. After every downpour the air felt crisp and clean. Almost as if Mother Nature was wiping the slate clean, allowing us to start each day with a new and rejuvenating spirit.

What I loved the most was the way the air felt and smelled early in the mornings, before the city turned into it’s chaotic hustle and bustle and before the air became humid and sticky. The morning air was just a bit damp and slightly misty from the water evaporating into the warm air. The breeze, although warm, was cool enough to be invigorating. Then there was that fresh fragrance, a mixture of salty sea and sweet flowers.

It was that same air I experienced this morning in Weimar – thousands of kilometers away from Bombay and years later. But just this one small experience took me back to so many happy and crazy memories, raising my spirits and giving me my buzz for the day.

What was your buzz today?

Well if you haven’t had a buzz yet, I’ve got the perfect thing for you. These sandwiches!

The idea of stuffing the gorgeous mixture of eggplant caponata into a sandwich came from the lovely Nupur of One Hot Stove. It was last August when I read her post “Alone in the Kitchen!” It amused me and I instantly ordered the book she reviewed. As I scrolled down, I read the recipe attached to her post and fell in love with the sandwiches.

I have made several versions of the typical eggplant-tomato combination, which is found in several world cuisines. But never did I ever think of adding it to a sandwich.

This month Zu of Zlamushka's Spicy Kitchen is featuring One Hot Stove in her Tried & Tasted. I do not think there is anyone who has not heard of Nupur’s wonderful blog. She has a way about her that makes me sit up and think. I enjoy her writing and I love the fact that she is a caring person to those around her and to the environment she lives in. Currently, she is my “Knitting Queen” and often shares her lovely projects with us. I am thoroughly enjoying seeing each of her project. I do not knit - I probably never will either but I love her enthusiasm for this hobby. 

Nupur in your honour – caponata sandwiches my way!

I made a few changes to Nupur’s original recipe. As one of my men does not like capers and the other does not want raisins in savory food, I omitted both. Instead I added a yellow zucchini and a small bulb of fennel. To this I also threw in a small handful of olives. Instead of the balsamic vinegar I used lovely raspberry balsamic vinegar, which added the slight sweetness raisins would have. Finally, I drizzled the whole mixture with delicate butter oil; I got as a present for my birthday. Oh the fragrance! It was incredible and the sandwiches – they were gone before I was able to take decent pictures. I did manage a few though and I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!


Ingredients
Printable version of recipe here.

Caponata Ingredients (01) Diptych by MeetaK

100 ml olive oil
1 fennel bulb, diced
1 medium aubergine, cut into cubes
1 orange bell pepper, cut into cubes
1 yellow zucchini, cut into cubes
2-3 ripe tomatoes, diced
1 medium red onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Handful each fresh thyme and oregano, chopped
50 - 100g olives, chopped
Salt and pepper
Good splash of raspberry balsamic vinegar
Good drizzle of butter oil
Mozzarella cheese, sliced
Slices of whole wheat toast


Method

Caponata (01) by MeetaK

Heat up the olive oil in a large pan. Sauté the garlic and onions until translucent and fragrant. Add the aubergine and sauté for about 2 minutes, until just starting to soften. Throw in the bell pepper and zucchini and continue to cook until vegetables are tender but still crisp, approx. 2-3 minutes. Add the fennel, sauté till just tender. Then finally add the diced tomatoes with all the juices and the herbs. Mix well and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Simmer until the vegetables begin to release their aromas and the flavors blend with each other. The mixture will start to thicken, about 20 minutes. Stir often so that the vegetables do not stick to the pan.

Add the raspberry balsamic vinegar and olives, check seasoning. Keep warm.

On a chopping board lay out the slices of toast bead and layer a few slices of mozzarella on one side. Just before you spoon the caponata drizzle it with a good shot of the exquisite butter oil.

Spoon a few tablespoons of the caponata on one side of the toast bread and close the sandwich with the other. Press down gently.

Re-heat the pan you made the caponata in and toast the sandwiches for 3-5 minutes on low heat on each side until the cheese starts to melt.

Serve warm.


Verdict

These were so good. A perfect combination of healthy vegetables in a sandwich - my kind of fast food. These are perfect for snacks, a light lunch or picnics. Soeren loved the cheesy soft vegetables sandwiched in the bread and demanded to save one for his lunchbox. The tiny but very exquisite touch was the addition of raspberry balsamic vinegar and the decadent drizzling of the butter oil towards the end. Both have a fantastic flavor and highlighted the aromas of the vegetables perfectly. Tangy and butterlicious!

You might enjoy these great vegetable ideas too:

OrientalVegies02
Warm Oriental Vegetable Salad
CaramelizedVegieTart03
Caramelized Vegetable Tart
Ratatouille o6
Ratatouille Provençal

 

Aubergine recipes from around the blogs:

Nami Nami's wonderful Armenian Aubergine Stew

Mostly Eating's aromatic Aubergine, courgette and tomato stew with quinoa and feta

Ammalu's Kitchen's flavorful Aubergine Tomato Gratin

Zlamushka's Spicy Kitchen's spicy Sichuan Aubergine


Reminder!

MM Mango Mania July 2008-250px The Monthly Mingle is in full swing this month with Mango Mania. I am enjoying your fantastic ideas and creations. Hope the rest of you will join us experimenting with this lovely fruit.

Joining the party is easy. Create a mango dish and post it on your blog by July 14 and send it on over to me. You will find more details here.

Deadline: 14 July 2008



All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2008 Meeta Khurana unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

34 comments :

  1. I know I would love your sandwich Meeta. I had some a lot like it and have always been pleased - love eggplant which helps I guess.
    I always find memory triggers fascinating and this one of yours is really lovely.

    ReplyDelete
  2. a sandwich with eggplant? that's new to me. lovely and vibrant pictures.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Those do look delicious Meeta. Just curious - what is butter oil? It sounds wonderfully decadent, but I have no idea what it is.

    priya

    ReplyDelete
  4. Gorgeous caponata, Meeta! You can send that sandwich my way anytime!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Those sandwiches look good and sound really tasty!

    ReplyDelete
  6. That sandwich looks awesome! Really scrumptious and colorful!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

    ReplyDelete
  7. Butter oil....now that sounds interesting - what is it?

    ReplyDelete
  8. That Nupur rocks, doesn't she? Maybe I'll just start her fan club :)

    I love the idea of using fennel in these sandwiches, I'll bet that was delicious!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I've only made caponata once, but really liked it. Once all the vegetables are available here again, I'll do it again.
    PS LOve the little ladybugs in your header!!

    ReplyDelete
  10. That sounds fantastic! I love caponata - I'll give this one a try, though I might leave out the fennel (allergy runs in my family, so I'd better avoid it... *sigh*).

    ;)

    PS: Scheduled a post for DT on Tuesday, I hope it'll go OK as I'll be on vacation! :D

    ReplyDelete
  11. Great sandwhich! Something I think would be fantastic for lunch, maybe even breakfast - heck, it'll be good anytime of day!! And like everyone else, what the heck is butter oil???

    ReplyDelete
  12. Yummmm! I love caponata, but have never had it between sliced bread!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I love caponata and I love sandwiches... I mean, what's not to love here?! :-) Gorgeous photos, too.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I love the flavors in caponata and making it into sandwiches is just genius, Meeta!

    ReplyDelete
  15. What a coincidence! I felt the same kind of buzz today..with rain and all here in Chicago. I was walking to work in my sandals (duh!!) very gingerly trying not to splash and got reminded of dear old Chennai. During the rainy days I used to come back with mud splattered all behind me usually to the pleasant smell of boiled peanuts or bajjis Mom would have made.....sigh!
    Your caponata looks gorgeous!

    ReplyDelete
  16. That does look like one amazing sandwich!

    ReplyDelete
  17. My buzz today is that I crocheted a cupcake :D
    And it is still Bombay as far as I am concerned ;) the city of my birth!
    You really brought the caponata sandwiches to life with your pictures, Meeta. I love the addition of fennel to your version. And raspberry vinegar sounds incredible too!
    Thank you for this sweet post :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. Meeta , this looks so good , I just had my lunch and Im hungry again:D. I am an aubergine lover... anything for it!!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Gorgeous combination of ingredients, especially with the cheese melting on top! My buzz today -- walking out into my herb garden at daybreak, the air crisp, as the first rays of sun landed on my parsley plants.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Darling! How are you?

    It's been so long since I dropped by, do forgive me... the header, my is that a sexy new header :)

    And the pic with the sandwich, I love the context of the photograph, really beautiful setting and backdrop. You are truly exceptional at what you do.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Dear Meeta,

    Theres something for you in store in my blog! check here http://iyengarskitchen.blogspot.com

    Take care,

    Veda

    ReplyDelete
  22. Such beautiful pictures you have made, Meeta. The caponata looks really yummy. But today I 'll make Ratatouille. That was another very informative post about how to make it correctly. Now I can also boast about it ;)
    It was a big pleasure to be here. You made my day!

    ReplyDelete
  23. My Sicilian grandmother used to give me caponata on toast all the time and I still like to have it as a light dinner. These sandwiches look great, maybe it was the melting cheese that seduced me!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Hi Meeta, this is my first visit to your blog. The sandwich sounds really delicious! The picture is equally inviting! Thanks for the recipe :)

    ReplyDelete
  25. looks gorgeous...wanna have a bite ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  26. Looks delicious. I have four eggplants in my garden, so I'm thinking about eggplant these days! (No eggplants quite yet though.)

    BTW, I've met Nupur and she is just charming.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Hi Meeta,

    a surprise awaits you in my blog.

    love-Bhawana

    ReplyDelete
  28. Great looking sandwich and am sure must have tasted delicious.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Caponata is amazing stuff! I love that you subbed raspberry vinegar for the sugar that is a part of the original recipe - already sweetened vinegar - great take on agra dolce. I am going to have to remember that the next time I make caponata! perfect for summer!

    ReplyDelete
  30. I love the caponata! On a sandwich? sounds amazing! :)

    ReplyDelete
  31. this is such a beautiful post not only to look at, but also to read. If I was Nupur, my heart would melt right now. You are so kind, I am sure you will be similarly praised in T&T this month.
    Thanks for your contribution, looking forward to cooking from you.

    ReplyDelete
  32. hmmmm...this sandwich is kinda new to me..but anyway it really looks delicious..sandwich with eggplant...

    ReplyDelete
  33. Hi Meeta,

    I usually when I make myself a sandwich I add a bit of Spanish cheese, which is really smooth and tasty, so it really improves the whole thing, why don´t you try it too, I´m sure you won´t regret it, just have a look at this website, I´m sure you´ll get mad about it.
    K
    Kind regards


    Ana
    http://www.asturiascheese.com/spanish-cheese

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for visiting What's For Lunch, Honey? and taking time to browse through my recipes, listen to my ramblings and enjoy my photographs. I appreciate all your comments, feedback and input. I will answer your questions to my best knowledge and respond to your comments as soon as possible.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy your stay here and that I was able to make this an experience for your senses.

Hugs
Meeta