Are you a packed lunch person? I am. Always have been. It's nice to occasionally grab a work lunch out, but every working day? It would cost a small fortune. Much of the time my lunchbox contains a homemade sandwich of some sort, but lately I've fancied a bit of a change.
So earlier this week I invested a bit of time to prepare a few lunchtime treats to pep up the middle of my working day. One of the recipes I made was for a Caponata or Aubergine Stew. It's perfect served at room temperature with some pitta breads. It also improves in flavour when left for a day or two in the fridge. For me it's the perfect late September packed lunch.
There are lots of recipes for Caponata that all vary ever so slightly, but this is my favourite. It's a fail-safe recipe, the ingredients for which you may already have in your store cupboard. Make a batch for the fridge (it will keep you going most of the week) and give yourself a well deserved rest from the drudgery of making sandwiches every day.
2 aubergines, cut into 1cm cubes
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely sliced
I garlic clove, chopped
400g tinned tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp capers
50g stoned green olives, sliced
A good handful of flat-leaf parsley or mint or both
Put the aubergine in a colander and add the salt. Leave to drain for 30 minutes, rinse and pat dry.
While the aubergine is salting, heat half the olive oil in a saucepan. Add the onion, celery and garlic and fry gently for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the balsamic vinegar, sugar, capers and olives. Simmer for 5–10 minutes, stirring often. Turn off the heat.
Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan and fry the aubergine for 5 minutes until golden. Add to the tomato sauce. Return to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes then remove from heat, cover and allow to cool. Serve straight away or leave for a day to deepen the flavours. Sprinkle with parsley or mint before serving.