Springtime calls for simple meals with seasonal ingredients. Enter this 20-minute meal with a fresh tomato sauce and grilled zucchini served over a bed of linguine.
I wrote some months ago that “culture and food are tied together as life and breath are tied together, and for the simple reason that culture finds no more universal expression of itself than in how people sustain themselves. It is an encapsulation of ‘home,’ both metaphorically and physically, showcasing not only the ingredients a people have access to, but also how they interpret those ingredients.”
I went on to explain how even when available ingredients overlap, interpretations on those ingredients can still manifest quite differently, and how that’s where the beautifully subtle differences in what we call ‘gourmet’ can arise.
Naturally, all of that was in reference to, of all things, eggplants – and specifically to caponata, and how the peasant food interpretation of eggplant that I grew up with has, like grizzle bones, been placed atop a proverbial pedestal of ‘authentic gourmet’ cooking. I suppose it was with that seed planted in my mind that I picked up a few cans of caponata some weeks ago. I’m going to admit that I was very pleasantly surprised. However, it had more the consistency of a thick, overly chunky ‘sauce’ than a caponata. Naturally, that got to me to thinking – why not transform this admittedly delicious canned variety of the eggplant dish into what it already rather resembles, a sauce?
Needless to say, that’s exactly what I did, and precisely where today’s recipe comes in.
Of course, you can use homemade caponata in place of a canned variety, but honestly, there’s really no need to go through such trouble for today’s purposes since a quality brand variety will suffice more than admirably.
To start things off, heat a large cast iron frying pan, and place the sliced onion in the pan – dry – until the onions get a nice char. After that, add in the diced tomatoes, and toss. You want the tomatoes to soften slightly, and then add in about a tablespoon of oil and the garlic. Toss again, and then add in the anchovies and the capers. Carefully mash the anchovies with a fork to incorporate them into the sauce. This also releases the juices from the anchovies early on to further incorporate the flavor into the sauce.
At this point, add in the caponata, then fill the can with water, swish it about, and add that to the sauce as well. Give the sauce another couple of tosses and add in the spices listed below.
Let the sauce simmer over a gentle heat for a few minutes, and then add in the wine and let the sauce simmer for a few more minutes, and then taste for seasonings and adjust to your preference.
In a separate dry frying pan and allow the sliced zucchini to char – similar to the onions earlier. Then transport the zucchini wedges into the sauce. Then prepare your pasta as directed and lift the pasta into the sauce.
Then serve with a drizzle of oil, a dusting of cheese, some red pepper, and just like that you’ve got a delicious plate of “gourmet” pasta.
Enjoy with Love!