I know I say it all the time but I am a lucky, lucky girl. I have fresh seafood available to me at the Farmers market every Saturday. Of course the great vendors are at the market every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
I am a big fan of Caponata. It's a Mediterranean dish consisting of mostly eggplant. There are many combos of vegetables you can use. Well this week I had my taste bud set on Fennel, which I thought would really liven up the caponata. And it did.
I had guest coming for dinner at 7:30 and had an Italian group meeting at 6:00 so I started the prep early and was able to get dinner on the table with time to spare. This is a very user friendly dish that can be started ahead of time.
I used Drum because Clara, from the farmers market, had some beautiful fresh sides. You could use any white fish. Sea bass would be yummy and hold up great to the flavors. You could also substitute chicken for the fish. You would just have to precook the chicken a little before topping with the caponata.
2 medium eggplants, diced
2 fennel bulbs, jullienned
1 medium red onion, jullienned
4 garlic cloves, diced
2 cups mixed olives
1 16 oz can good quality diced tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup olive oil
1 bunch jullienned basil
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and saute the fennel, garlic, and onion until softened and slightly translucent. Salt and pepper to taste. Add the eggplant and cook until softened Salt and pepper again to taste. Next add the olives and tomatoes.
Finish off with basil.
At this point you can refrigerate until you need it. But we are going to get started on our fish.
In a baking dish, place your fish and toss with olive oil and salt and pepper on each side. Lay side by side. Top with the finished caponata and place in a 400 degree oven for about 1/2 hour or until the fish is flaky and cook through.
I Served the fish with a potato pancake. This is what my mom calls a "Hash Brown" and it works as a great balance to the acid in the caponata.
2 large Idaho potatoes, shredded and squeezed
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 cup canola oil
Place the shredded potatoes in a bowl and toss with Salt and pepper.
Heat the canola oil in a large non stick skillet. Add the potatoes and spread over the bottom of the skillet. Press to form a compact cake. Cook on medium low heat until golden brown. Flip and cook the other side until it is also golden brown. Remove from pan and cut into wedges.