Caponata Charlottes with Dried Fruits

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2 large eggplants, cut lengthways into 1/4-inch slices
olive oil for brushing
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 logs small firm goat's cheese, cut in half horizontally.
For The Caponata
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, 1/2-inch diced
1 clove garlic crushed
1 small eggplant, 1/2-inch diced
1/2 red pepper, 1/2-inch diced
1/2 yellow pepper, 1/2-inch diced
2 small zucchini, 1/2-inch diced
1 celery stick, 1/2-inch diced
1 ounce dried apricots, (soaked for 2 hours and then 1/2-inch diced)
1 ounce dried apple, (soaked for 2 hours and then 1/2-inch diced)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
1 tablespoon raisins, (soaked in warm water until plump)
3 tablespoons pine kernels
salt and freshly ground black pepper
For The Tomato Oil
4 ripe plum tomatoes
1 small clove garlic, halved
1 sprig of thyme
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
a pinch of sugar (optional)
For The Garnish
a good bunch of rocket leaves
2 tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and cut into 1/2-inch diamonds

To prepare the eggplants:
Place the eggplant slices on a baking sheet and brush them with olive oil. Season and bake for about 8 minutes or until tender. Remove the eggplant slices from the oven and leave to cool. Leave the oven on.

Use the eggplants slices to line ramekin dishes, each about 6 fluid ounces capacity. It is important that the slices overlap each other, leaving no gaps, and that they hang over the rim of the dish so that they can be used to cover and secure the caponata filling.

To make the caponata:
Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the onion and garlic. Cook for 1 minute before adding the remaining vegetables and the dried fruit. Cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are softened and lightly golden.

Add the balsamic vinegar, maple syrup or honey, and the raisins, and mix well to form a sweet and sour sauce. Finally add the pine kernels and season to taste.

To combine the two:
Put a 1/2 -inch layer of the caponata into the eggplant lined dishes. Top with a piece of goat's cheese, followed by more caponata. Fold over the eggplant slices to secure the filling and press them down to ensure the filling is compact.

Place on a baking sheet and bake for 4-5 minutes, until just warmed through.

To make the tomato oil:
Quarter the tomatoes and blend to extract the juices. Strain the tomato juice into a small pan and add the garlic and thyme. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the liquid is reduced to half.

Remove from the heat, strain the juice again, and leave to cool. Whisk the olive oil, season and add a pinch of sugar if necessary. (This oil may be made 3-4 days in advance and kept in the refrigerator.)

And finally:
Carefully unmold the warm charlottes on to serving plates, garnish with rocket and diced tomato and a little tomato oil.

Serves: 4



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