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Cleaning out the vegetable garden

Cleaning out the vegetable garden

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With summer clearly behind us and the shorter days smelling more of fall, it’s time to clean out our vegetable gardens. At the end of every season, tomatoes still cling to the vine, desperately trying to ripen before the first frost. Under the thick canopy of squash vines, I always find a few extra zucchini. There are inevitably a couple bell peppers and even an eggplant left to enjoy; reminders of summer’s bounty.


Luckily, there are several perfect dishes that help you enjoy these final tastes from the garden. We often turn to capontata or ratatouille for just that! What is the difference, you may ask? According to Chowhound:


Ratatouille is a popular dish from the French region of Provence that combines eggplant, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, zucchini, garlic, and herbs — all simmered in olive oil. They can be cooked together or cooked separately and then combined and heated briefly together. Ratatouille can be served hot, cold, or at room temperature, as a side dish or appetizer with bread or crackers.


Caponata is a Sicilian dish that’s generally served as a salad, side dish, or relish. It’s composed of eggplant, onions, tomatoes, anchovies, olives, pine nuts, capers, and vinegar, all cooked together in olive oil. Oftentimes caponata contains something sweet like raisins or a touch of sugar. It’s most often served at room temperature.


The briny olives, pungent anchovies, tangy vinegar, and salty capers really differentiate the taste of caponata from ratatouille, despite their similar vegetables — eggplant, tomatoes, onions — and cooking method — mixed together in olive oil. Either dish would be great on pizza, in pasta, or on top of toasted French or Italian bread slices for bruschetta.


Below please find Beth’s recipe for Caponata, which we often serve on delicious ricotta toasts (and just to confuse you, we often call it Ratatouille Bruschetta). Either way, delicious!


Ratatouille Bruschetta

Ratatouille Bruschetta ~ Tender roasted peppers, eggplant, capers and tomatoes on ricotta toasts with fresh basil.




  By Beth Sogaard  ,

October 10, 2017

This sweet and savory relish is particularly good with fresh goat cheese and a hearty red wine.

  • Yields: 16 servings (1 quart)


1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 small yellow onion, peeled and cut into 1/4" dice

2 stalks celery, cut into 1/4" dice

1 cup eggplant, cut into 1/4" dice

1/2 cup diced yellow bell pepper

1/2 cup diced red bell pepper

1 cup diced canned roma tomatoes in juice, or equivalent peeled, seeded fresh tomatoes

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 bunch italian flat leaf parsley, chopped (stems ok)

1/4 bunch basil, stemmed and chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1/6 cup red wine vinegar

1 tbsp tomato paste

warm water, if needed

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 tbsp capers, drained

1/2 tsp sugar


1Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat and saute the onion until translucent, about 10 minutes. Stir in the celery and cook until just tender, about 8 minutes more. Remove and reserve.

2Heat the remaining olive oil in the saute pan and cook the eggplant and peppers over medium-high heat until starting to brown and soften, about 10 minutes. Stir in the wine and then the tomatoes and their juice, the parsley, basil, garlic, vinegar, tomato paste, 1/4 cup warm water and the reserved onion and celery mixture. Bring up to a simmer and then reduce heat. Season well with salt and pepper.

3Cook the mixture until the vegetables are tender, but not mushy, and the water is almost evaporated, stirring occasionally. Add the capers and the sugar and taste. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper, adding more sugar or more vinegar to make a pleasant savory-sweet and tangy condiment.

4Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Caponata is a Sicilian sweet and sour version of ratatouille. Like most eggplant dishes, this gets better overnight. It makes a great topping for bruschetta.


AUTHOR - Beth Sogaard

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