Caponata from 'River Cottage Veg'
Caponata is one of my favorite dippy things to whip out for summertime entertaining. A tangy sweet-and-sour melange of eggplant, tomatoes, and briny olives, the dish plays well with summer staples like grilled bread, grilled chicken, and grilled...well, anything. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's version in River Cottage Veg calls for an ingredient I had never thought to include in my caponatas: chocolate. Reading through the recipe, I was surprised by the addition and thought it a uniquely River Cottage thing. A couple of Google searches later returned countless Sicilian recipes that included grated chocolate or cocoa powder for some bittersweet richness. Perhaps it wasn't so surprising after all.
Why I picked this recipe: Had to try this chocolate-laced version of my favorite summer spread.
What worked: The ingredient list may be long, but the balance of this caponata is on point.
What didn't: I thought the eggplant could have used a little more time frying. I ended up needing to add a bit of water to the final simmering stew in order to give it more time on the stovetop.
Suggested tweaks: You could play with the ingredients here if you'd like, but keep in mind that the final dish is supposed to have a bright sweet-and-sour flavor.
About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, Berkeleyside NOSH, and blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.