|Messy but delicious|
Now, all is gone. However, if I ever catch the culprit, be it a cat, fox or hedgehog on the make, then retribution will be swift. For I have a water pistol, primed, loaded and ready, by the patio door.
Still, having an unexpected bounty of green tomatoes isn’t such a bad thing really. I quite like them in their unripened state; either in curry, chopped into salsa verde or simply fried for breakfast, along with an egg, sunny-side up. Because they are normally fairly tart at this stage, I also wondered how they would fair in caponata, that infamous Sicilian stew, concocted from slow-cooked and cosseting aubergine, spiked with capers and vinegar.
There are lots of variations out there but the general consensus is to achieve a perfect balance of sour and sweetness through the dish, or agrodolce, as the Italians say. Having tried it out, the green tomatoes certainly delivered an acetic kick to the palate, providing delicious contrast to saccharine shallots and indulgent, melting flesh of the eggplant. So if are growing your own, or can get hold of some, be brave and snip a few off early. It’s definitely something different to try out.
On a warm summer’s evening, this sort of caponata would go down particularly well with friends, served on bruschetta, drizzled with oil and parsley, and washed down with a crisp, dry white wine. And if, whilst eating, you happen to spy a devious, malformed, hairy looking creature who happens to go by the name of Fred. Sat there, looking all smug and complacent, whilst perched on the fence.
If you could only manage to grab the water pistol without him noticing. Just this one bloody time.
Then that would be just perfect.
This post first appeared on Great British Chefs.
Caponata with green tomatoes on bruschetta - serves 8
100ml olive oil
2 aubergines, large dice
1 shallot, halved and finely sliced
1 celery stick, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
Small bunch of fresh oregano, leaves picked
5 green tomatoes, roughly chopped (one red tomato did make it in the pot too)
2 tbs capers
2 tbs red wine vinegar
1 tsp tomato puree
Salt and pepper, to season
1 tbs chopped parsley, to garnish
For the bruschetta
Half a stale sourdough loaf, slice thinly
First take a saucepan, place it on the hob over a medium heat and add the olive oil. Once it has warmed up, add the diced aubergine and stir before dropping the heat a touch. Cover and leave the aubergine to cook for 10-15 minutes, checking to stir every now and then, in case it catches, until it becomes soft
Remove the aubergine with a slotted spoon (there should be some oil left in the pan) and put it briefly to one side in a bowl. Add the sliced shallot and celery and again stir through and cover, leaving to cook for 10 minutes
Take the lid off and add the garlic and oregano. Stir, cooking off for a minute or so, then add the tomato and the vinegar. Cook off for another 10 minutes before adding the aubergine back to the pan, along with the purée and the capers. If the mix begins to look a bit dry, add a touch more oil.
Leave everything to gently simmer for another 15 minutes then take off the heat. Everything should be quite soft and glistening by this point and will do well if cooled on the side and left to steep and thicken for a couple of hours.
When ready to eat, place a frying pan on the hob and drizzle your slices of sourdough with oil and quickly toast in the pan in batches. Keep the bread warm as you move along.
To serve, spread the grilled bread onto a platter or wooden board and spoon a generous amount of caponata on each piece. Finish by drizzling with more oil and sprinkling parsley all over the top to messy effect.