It's so hard to come back from vacation. I hereby propose that we work for 4 weeks every year and vacation the rest of it! Wouldn't that be nice? I am excited for this summer though. The sun is finally shining, the grass is green and our garden is coming up. The last two years, our summers have been full of renovations and other projects but this year I am doing nothing! I'll do the garden and keep the yard nice but I have sworn off any major projects. I'm just going to enjoy the weekends and the trips we're planning over the next few months.
That also means we'll have plenty of time for parties! I love entertaining and especially when we can do it outside in the yard. We're working on a date for our annual formal Dinner in the Garden party but I want many more formal and informal get togethers too. That means that I need some new recipes in the arsenal to keep things fresh and new.
I love working with OXO and the recently sent me some fresh Chinese Eggplant from Melissa's produce along with this fantastic GreenSaver storage container (more on that below).
I'm honestly not usually a huge fan of eggplant but I wanted to experiment with some new ways of using it and I needed some more appetizer ideas too. I came across this recipe for Eggplant Caponata and knew right away that I wanted to try it. It had so many great ingredients and although I started to doubt how it would all come together as I was making it, they are so amazing. I just couldn't stop eating it. I love the sweet and sour combination and the tomatoes are so rich after being cooked down. My mouth is watering now just writing about it again. It is great served room temperature which is perfect for most entertaining and can be made up to a week ahead!
GreenSaver from OXO
We were actually in Mexico when the eggplant arrived and I had my Mother-in-law just put it in the GreenSaver container for me until I got home. It was over a week before I finally got to creating this recipe and yet it was still just as fresh and crisp! We are so bad at having things go bad in our fridge around here and I'm so glad we've got this now to help us save more if it! Did you know that the average family wastes for than 226 pounds of food a year from it going bad? That's pretty crazy.
Here are the main reasons why produce goes bad:
Fruits and vegetables give off ethylene gas. Exposing produce to ethylene gas speeds up the ripening process, causing it to overripen and go bad.
When produce rests against the walls of containers, bags or crispers, moisture can build up and cause rotting.
Fruits and vegetables require the perfect balance of humidity to keep them crisp and prevent wilting. To make things more difficult, different kinds of produce require different humidity levels to stay crisp.
And here's how OXO solves all this:
- ACTIVATED CARBON FILTERS
Activated carbon filters trap and absorb ethylene gas, slowing down the aging process and keeping produce fresh longer. The filters are made from coconut husks, making them safe, all-natural and non-toxic.
- ELEVATED BASKET
The elevated basket lifts produce up and away from the container walls to promote airflow and help prevent rotting. It can also be removed and used as a colander.
- ADJUSTABLE VENT
The adjustable vent on top of each Produce Keeper slides open and closed to maintain optimum humidity levels for different types of produce, keeping them crisp and fresh.
adapted from Saveur
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
2 lb. eggplant, cut into 1/2″ cubes
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 rib celery, roughly chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 tbsp. tomato paste, thinned with 1⁄4 cup water
1 cup crushed canned tomatoes
6 oz. green olives, pitted and roughly chopped
1⁄2 cup white wine vinegar
1⁄2 cup golden raisins
1⁄4 cup capers
3 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. finely grated unsweetened chocolate
1⁄2 cup finely shredded basil
2 tbsp. pine nuts
Place chopped eggplant on a large sheet pan and sprinkle with 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Spread it into a flat layer and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, turning after 10 minutes. Set aside and let cool.
Heat remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and celery and cook until softened and browned, about 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for about 2 minutes or until the tomato paste has begun to caramelize. Add the crushed tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes, stirring often.
Stir in the olives, vinegar, raisins, capers, sugar and chocolate and continue to cook for an additional 15 minutes. The mixture will start to thicken and caramelize. Add the eggplant, basil and pine nuts and remove from heat. Allow to cool and then serve atop crostini.
Disclosure: I was provided a free GreenSaver container from OXO and produce from Melissa's Produce. All opinions are my own.