Tag Archives: antipasto

Roasted capsicums with breadcrumbs and olives

This simple dish comes courtesy of Rosa’s Farm, a lovely cookbook with recipes you would actually cook, and not just imagine cooking.  It can be served as part of an antipasto or as a side dish with a main course. In the recipe she suggests putting the capsicums on a baking tray; I put it in a baking oven-to-table dish so that I could prepare and serve all in one dish. I also upped the quantity of parsley

roastcapsicum

Ingredients
6-8 red capsicums
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 cup green olives, pitted and roughly chopped
3/4 cup fresh white breadcrumbs
1/3 cup chopped continental parsley

Making it
1. Preheat oven to 180C

2. Cut the capsicums, remove seeds and cut into strips. Place in a bowl, add oil and season to taste with salt and pepper, mixing well. Place on a baking tray or in a baking dish and cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes – stir them three or four times while cooking

3. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with the olives and breadcrumbs, mix and return to the oven for a further 10-15 minutes until capsicum are tender

4. To serve, sprinkle with parsley

Caponata – Italian sweet and sour

Caponata is a humble but delicious Sicilian eggplant dish.  While the origin of the name is unknown, it is considered by many Siciliani to be a core dish of the region’s cuisine . Typically served at room temperature or even cold, it makes a great side dish for fish or grilled chicken.  Or even for breakfast on some crusty bread with a fried egg.   The quantity below is enough as a side dish for 8-10, however it keeps well in the fridge for a good few days if you’re keen on making a batch and eating it gradually. I had some the following day from the refrigerator and it was even tastier with more developed flavours. Variations on the theme – some versions add toasted pinenuts and sultanas. Also add some fresh basil if you have it on hand.

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Ingredients
4 medium eggplant
Salt
Olive oil for frying
2 tablespoons olive oil, extra
1 large brown onion, diced
2 cups celery, cut into 1cm pieces
1/2 cup green Sicilian olives, pipped and quartered
2 tablespoons salted capers, well rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon raw sugar
50ml red wine vinegar
1 tin peeled tomatoes

Making it
1. Cut eggplant into 2cm cubes, sprinkle with salt and leave for 20-25 minutes. Rinse and dry with paper towels.
2. Put a generous amount of olive oil in a frypan, heat, and fry the eggplant in batches until golden and soft but not collapsing. Line a colander with paper towels and drain the eggplant, using more paper towels as needed.


3. In a heavy based frypan, heat the 2 tablespoons of extra olive oil and saute the onion until soft, then add the celery and saute for another 5-7 minutes. Add the eggplant, capers olives, sugar, red wine vinegar and tomatoes, gently combine and simmer on low heat, covered, for 10-12 minutes
4. Remove from frypan and place in a serving bowl and allow to cool

 

Vegetable terrine

Got a vegetarian coming over? They will love this. You could also use some semi dried tomatoes chopped through it. Slices of baked salted ricotta instead of bocconcini would work well, or no cheeses at all if you prefer dairy free. Prepare the day before serving.

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Ingredients
2 large eggplants
3 zucchini
3 red capsicum
Olive oil
Caramalised balsamic
Bunch of basil
5 large bocconcini thinly sliced
Salt

Making it
1. Slice the eggplants lengthways in 7mm slices, brush liberally with olive oil and chargrill (a mandolin and George Foreman makes short work of this!). Season the slices as you take them off the grill.

2. Similarly slice the zucchini, brush with olive oil, and chargrill. Season.

3. Meanwhile, char the capsicum under the grill, turning gradually so all blackened. Remove from grill and once cool enough, peel off the skin, remove seeds and tear into strips. Season.

4. Spray a loaf pan with olive oil and line with glad wrap. Line with eggplant such that there is some eggplant hanging over the sides. (Set aside one slice of eggplant for the end, any remaining slices can be used throughout). Gradually layer the zucchini, capsicum, basil, bocconcini, and any remaining eggplant, with dots of caramelised balsamic as you go. Once all the layers are done, fold the eggplant over and place the last slice of eggplant on top. Seal with the glad wrap, place a plastic lid or tray that fits snugly inside the pan, and weigh down with some canned tomatoes or fruit and place in the refrigerator overnight. You may need to strain excess juices a couple of times.

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5. Once ready to serve, turn out onto a platter and garnish with basil and slice.

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Sicilian Baked Eggplant

There are a few people somewhat partial to eggplant in the Napoli household, so I’m often on the lookout for new things to do with it.  I first saw this recipe on Please Pass the Recipe, who in turn saw it on the Dish Magazine website.  I thought it sounded delicious, but I put my own spin on it and did it slightly differently (other versions used honey, capers and yoghurt), so perhaps I should name it Calabrese Baked Eggplant.  This one’s a keeper.

Ingredients
2 large eggplants
12 cherry tomatoes, halved and lightly seasoned
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon brown sugar
30g pine nuts
175g ricotta

To serve
1 cup roughly torn basil
Zest of one lemon

Making it
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C fan forced. Line a baking dish with baking paper

Cut the eggplants in half, keeping the stem. Then cut each half into 4-5 slices (will depend on the size of your eggplant), once again keeping the stem intact, and fan out the slices. Lay them on your baking tray.

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Combine the oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar and whisk until the sugar and salt is dissolved. Spoon or brush it onto the eggplant, ensuring it gets between the layers. Scatter over the cherry tomoatoes.

Bake for one hour, basting with juices every 15 minutes. I found a pastry brush was the easiest way to do this (there won’t be much juice at the first 15 minute mark). After you do the 30 minute basting, sprinkle over the pine nuts and dot the ricotta over the eggplant and return to the oven.

After an hour, switch off the oven and allow to sit in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle over the basil and lemon zest. Serve with crusty bread and a green salad. Buonissimo.

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Cauliflower & ricotta fritters

Good old fashioned cauliflower started to make a bit of a come back in 2015, with kale slowly fading away.  Cauliflower started appearing on big name chefs restaurant menus, roasted whole, served in salads, purees.  Neil Perry gave it a blessing with this nice looking recipe in Good Food. Me, I decided it would work well in a fritter, hearty for the vegacquarian Marito – he loved them. Do try and buy fresh ricotta when you can, rather than the pre-packaged supermarket stuff – it makes such a difference to any recipe.

cauliflowerfritters

Ingredients
750g cauliflower florets
250g ricotta, well drained
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup chives, finely chopped
1/3 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup flour
salt and pepper for seasoning
oil for frying

Making them
1. Blanch the cauliflower in boiling water until tender. Drain and allow to cool, then process in a food processor until broken down but not completely smooth (you could also just mash with a fork or potato masher).
2. Place cauliflower in a bowl with ricotta, season well with salt and pepper and combine with a wooden spoon. Add the egg, herbs and parmesan and combine. Finally add the breadcrumbs and flour and combine.
3. Shape into patties. I used a large ice cream scoop to divide the mixture first before shaping so that the patties are consistent in size, and got about 18 patties. Refrigerate the patties for an hour or so.
4. Heat the oil in a fry pan, and fry the patties on medium heat for a few minutes each side until golden. Drain on paper towels and serve hot.

Zucchini Parmigiana

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I saw this Neil Perry recipe in the Good Weekend magazine last weekend and knew it was something my vegacquarian husband would love. I did modify the recipe slightly though, as it used 1kg of fresh tomatoes, which I substituted with tinned, and I reduced the quantity of cheese from 400g to 300g.   I think some ricotta crumbled through the layers would also work beautifully. The breadcrumbs are a must, they add a wonderful texture to the dish. Aforementioned vegacquarian loved it.

Ingredients
Sauce
2 x 400g tins of whole peeled tomatoes
Salt
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 brown onion, diced
½ tsp raw sugar

Zucchini
6 large green zucchinis, sliced lengthways 3mm thick
1/2 cup milk
4 eggs
Salt and pepper
1 cup plain flour, seasoned
Oil for shallow frying (I used canola)

 
100g parmesan, grated
200g mozzarella, grated
1/2 cup loosely packed basil leaves, torn
1 cup stale sourdough bread, roughly chopped

 

Making it
1.  For the sauce, in a frying pan, heat the olive oil on a medium heat. Add onion and salt and sauté until soft. Add the tomatoes and the sugar, and fill one of the empty tins with water and add. Simmer gently for about 30 minutes, using a wooden spoon to break down the tomatoes if necessary. Set aside.

2.  For the zucchini, whisk together milk, eggs, a pinch of salt and a grind of pepper. Place flour in a shallow bowl. Heat some oil on a medium heat in a large frying pan for shallow-frying. Working in batches, lightly flour the zucchini slices, then dip in egg mix and fry each side until golden (about a minute each side). Drain on paper towel.

3. Preheat oven to 180°C. Using a 2 1/2-litre baking dish, layer some of the tomato sauce mix on the bottom, top with a layer of zucchini, then with layers of parmesan, mozzarella and basil. Repeat until all ingredients are used, finishing with a layer of cheese. Bake for 40 minutes or until golden.

4. Meanwhile, process bread to form coarse breadcrumbs. Heat 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan and cook crumbs over a low heat until golden and crisp, set aside. Once the parmigiana is cooked garnish with the breadcrumbs and serve.

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