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!
Printable version of recipe here.
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
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.
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:
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
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
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