Zucchini Caponata

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Classic caponata is a Sicilian dish that's made with eggplant, olives and capers. It has a unique bittersweet taste that I've grown to love and I use it the way many folks use pesto. It's not unusual to find it on my table as an appetizer or a side-dish and I've even been known to use it as a main course. The second round of our holiday meals centered on food from the Mediterranean. I selected foods that lent themselves to the grill and al fresco dining. Yesterday, I used caponata as an appetizer. Tonight, I used it as a sauce for a pasta that made a light and simple supper. I'm not terribly fond of eggplant, so I've replaced it with a variety of summer squash that is more to my liking. You'll notice that I cut my vegetables into a larger dice than is generally used in caponata. I prefer the texture of chunkier vegetables and I've found caponata prepared in this way can be served with brushetta or pasta with equally good results. I've really simplified the classic recipe and use only those ingredients that are absolutely necessary to achieve the flavor I want. There's no denying that a lot a lot of chopping is required to make this, but if you like bold flavors, I know you'll love this dish and find the effort worthwhile. Here's the recipe.

Zucchini Caponata...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite

1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 teaspoons minced garlic
3 cups zucchini cut in 1/2-inch dice
1 cup yellow squash cut in 1/2-inch dice
1-1/2 cups chopped skinless tomato
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 to 3 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons drained capers
1/4 cup pitted halved black olives, preferably oil-cured
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1) Heat oil in a large heavy skillet. Add onions and celery and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in zucchini, yellow squash and tomatoes. Reduce heat and cook, covered, until vegetables are cooked, about 20 minutes.
2) Stir in tomato paste and cook, uncovered, until liquid evaporates.
3) Add sugar, salt, and pepper; stir and remove from heat. Cool slightly. Stir in capers, olives and basil. Refrigerate, covered, for 8 to 24 hours before serving. Yield: 2 cups.

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