Caponata di Marsala
We had a nice light veggie lunch at “Natura a Tavola” in Marsala the other day. The restaurant is located on via Garibaldi near the Chiesa Madre and a short walk from Garibaldi Gate.
The place, not only a bar/restaurant, sat in a plastic tent on the pedestrian road while the building next to the tent houses both the kitchen and a shop selling wines, spirits and a multitude of local deli foods. The tent provided protection from both any rain that may present itself but also the cold wind that comes off the sea without respite in the winter. In warmer seasons the plastic sheeting is removed to leave only the large parasols.
Natura a Tavola serves a variety of foods typical of the ancient port town. I ordered the Caponata, the subject of this post, that is said to have originated hundreds of years ago, to the time of the saracen occupation, though the recipe now includes tomatoes that were introduced to Europe only in the late 16th century, and not used much in cooking till the 18th century!
The exact recipe for this dish is no doubt a secret cherished by the family-owned restaurant but I have listed below the key ingredients that I could identify.
We also had a tuna salad - a bowl full of rocket, tomato, mozzarella, olives and canned tuna. Very good.
Ratatouille is very similar to caponata but, in comparison, is a much younger concoction. There are other similar dishes from various parts of the Med, no doubt based on an original recipe carried by boat in the hands of a cook of that era!
The caponata was accompanied by a basket of bread - sliced Italian bread that had been placed on a grill to give it a light toasty texture. Nicely done and helped soak up the sauce.
A glass of wine would have been nice but as I was driving I had to abstain, drinking water instead. I did, however, finish off the meal with a small glass of almond liqueur!
- Olives - green (but the original recipe uses black olives)
- Pine nuts
- Peppers (capsicum)
- Basil / oregano
- Olive oil, salt and pepper
I am not a person that follows recipes to the letter - the ingredients are what count rather than the exact quantity. Sometimes what one has in stock dictates the end result. I am not sure if the restaurant cooked the ingredients with wine but I would normally pour in a touch of red wine to provide a bit of extra flavour to the caponata. Marsala wine would add a hint of sweetness particularly if green olives are in the pot.
More posts on food and drink from the region coming soon.
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