with Eggplant Caponata & Fregola Sarda
Eggplant caponata is a Sicilian dish known for its bold flavors. In this recipe, we’re making it in the style of a traditional “agrodolce” (literally “sour and sweet”), striking the perfect balance of tart red wine vinegar and sugar. You’ll be serving it with fresh fish and fregola sarda, a tiny, toasted pasta from Sardinia, an island due north of Sicily.
- 3/4 Cup Fregola Sarda
- 3 Cloves Garlic
- 1 Bunch Parsley
- 1 Italian Eggplant
- 1 Lemon
- 1 Red Bell Pepper
- 1 Red Onion
- 1 Tablespoon Capers
- 1 Zucchini
- 2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon Sugar
- 2 Hake Fillets
- 2 Tablespoons Rice Flour
Cook the fregola sarda:
Heat a medium pot of salted water to boiling on high. Once boiling, add the fregola sarda and cook 10 to 12 minutes, or until al dente (still slightly firm to the bite). Drain thoroughly and rinse under cold water for 30 seconds to 1 minute to stop the cooking process. Transfer the cooked fregola to a bowl, toss with a drizzle of olive oil to prevent sticking, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside and wipe out the pot.
Prepare the ingredients:
While the fregola cooks, wash and dry the fresh produce. Peel and thinly slice the garlic. Pick the parsley leaves off the stems; discard the stems. Remove the stems of and medium dice the eggplant, bell pepper and zucchini. Using a peeler, remove the yellow rind of the lemon, avoiding the white pith; mince the rind to get 2 teaspoons of lemon zest. Quarter the lemon and remove the seeds. Peel and small dice the onion. Roughly chop the capers.
Make the caponata:
In the same pot used to cook the fregola, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium until hot. Add the onion and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until the onion has softened. Add the eggplant, bell pepper and zucchini and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, 8 to 10 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened.
Finish the caponata:
To the sautéed vegetables, add the sugar, capers, lemon zest, red wine vinegar, half the parsley (roughly chopping before adding, if you’d like) and ½ cup of water; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes, or until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the juice of 2 lemon wedges and 1 tablespoon of olive oil; season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside in a warm place.
Cook the fish:
Pat the fish fillets dry then season with salt and pepper on both sides. Completely coat the fish with the rice flour, shaking off any excess. In a large pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the coated fillets to the pan and cook 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until cooked through. (Loosely cover the pan with aluminum foil to help the fish cook through faster.) Transfer the cooked fish to a plate and season with salt and pepper.
Plate your dish:
Divide the fregola and cooked hake fillets between 2 plates and top with the caponata. Garnish with the remaining parsley and lemon wedges. Enjoy!