As much as I hate to admit it, the summer season is rapidly winding down. I managed to snag one last pint of raspberries last week and my favorite peach farmer told me that he’s nearly done with his harvest. The corn is almost gone and I’m starting to see my markets filling up with hardy winter squash and long stems of Brussels sprouts. Such is the cycle.
Last week in an attempt to ward off the effects of autumn for just a little bit longer, I went to the market and filled my bags with Roma tomatoes, glowing purple eggplants and as many Italian prune plums as I could carry.
The plums went into a batch of oven-roasted plum butter (it is so good on toast come January). Most of the tomatoes and eggplant became my husband’s yearly batch of eggplant Parmesan (it’s incredibly labor intensive, but so delicious), but after he filled a massive baking pan, there was still one giant eggplant and a smattering of tomatoes to be used.
And so I made caponata. Bobby Flay’s Grilled Eggplant Caponata Bruschetta With Ricotta Salata, to be precise. This is just the sort of recipe that uses up massive eggplants and wilting tomatoes with ease. It is terrific eaten on crackers, is good straight from the fridge or at room temperature and helps me pretend that I still have a few weeks of summer left. In my book, that makes it just the thing for The Weekender.
Before you start your grill, here are a few things you should know:
– This is one of those recipes that looks long and complicated, but comes together quickly once you start cooking. I highly recommend doing all the chopping in advance, so that you don’t have to pause once your pan is hot.
– If you like the sound of this dish, but don’t want to go to the hassle of lighting your grill, you can pop the eggplant and tomatoes under the broiler instead. Add a little smoked sea salt to the caponata near the end to mimic the flavor of char.
– If you have leftover caponata, try using it as a base for homemade pizza in place of the traditional sauce. It is quite tasty like that.
Marisa McClellan is a food writer and canning teacher who lives in Center City Philadelphia. Find more of her food (all cooked up in her 80-square-foot kitchen) at her blog, Food in Jars. Her first cookbook, Food in Jars: Canning in Small Batches Year Round, is now available.