Friday, May 7, 2010

Healthy Caponata

Last night Dan wanted lasagna for dinner again. He is playing the sick card to get his favorite dinner at least that seems to be his theory. He shamed me into making lasagna by claiming he can’t get it unless he is sick. Guilt works with me every time, and he knows it. That is the down side of being together so many years he knows exactly which button to push to get his way. I don’t mind making him lasagna but I am tired of it now. He could eat the same thing night after night when he loves it; I get bored with food very quickly. He hasn’t said anything but I suspect he wants lasagna again for dinner tonight. At least he has another serving in the refrigerator waiting for him. I have no idea yet what I am making myself for dinner.

I had intended to make caponata yesterday afternoon but ran out of time. Since I will be the only person eating it there wasn’t any rush on this. Caponata is something that we both love and in the past I would have sautéed the veggies in olive oil. Oddly I have become so accustomed to this no oil lifestyle that I don’t even miss it any more. Sometimes I wonder what happened to the old me as the idea of eliminating oil was so hard for me to imagine not that long ago. Even a year ago I would never have expected to be “this healthy”. Here is what I made this afternoon:

Healthy Caponata
Makes 8 - 1 cup servings


1 onion, finely diced (red is my preference but I was out)
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
½ fennel bulb, finely diced (or substitute 3 stalks celery, finely diced)
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 teaspoon oregano, dried
Red pepper flakes, to taste (this would be a great place for wet hots) – optional but recommended
1 eggplant, diced small into small bite size pieces
1 zucchini, diced small into small bite size pieces
2 cups tomatoes (I used cherry tomatoes cut in half), diced into small bite size pieces – it is traditional to skin them but I don’t bother
1 cup tomato sauce, or as much as you need to get the consistency you like
½ cup golden raisins
¼ cup pine nuts
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 scoops stevia, or to taste (I didn’t add this as I thought the raisins added enough sweetness but you may want to)
olives are a traditional ingredient if you aren't watching your sodium


Heat the pan with the water on high until it comes to a boil. Add the aromatics (onions, garlic and fennel) and cook, stirring often until they have begun to wilt. Depending on the pan you use and the power of your burner this should happen in approximately 3 minutes. Here is a picture of the cooked water sautéed aromatics for those that are having trouble with this process.

Add the remaining ingredients, except the stevia and tomato sauce, and cook until the eggplant and zucchini have softened. I tend to prefer my veggies to have a little texture but traditionally they are cooked until  quite soft. If you want the caponata to be saucier add as much tomato sauce as you think is necessary. Next add stevia until the caponata is as sweet as you like. In the past I would have added 2 to 3 tablespoons of sugar to this if you need a gauge. You want the caponata to have a sweet and sour flavor. Garnish with fresh parsley or torn basil leaves (if desired) and serve at room temperature or cold.

Caponata has many uses. I like it in a wrap sandwich with nut cheese. It is great tossed with some whole wheat pasta or on top of polenta. Our chef friend makes an appetizer plate with hummus, caponata, sweet pickles, olives and pepperoncini. I have also used it in lasagna instead of marinara sauce. As you can see it is versatile.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 103.09
Calories From Fat (27%) - 27.82

Total Fat - 3.33g
Saturated Fat - 0.28g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 175.15mg
Potassium - 582.26mg
Total Carbohydrates - 18.16g
Fiber - 4.55g
Sugar - 10.46g
Protein - 3.01g


This is one of my favorite foods. I could eat this every week, and that is not like me. The combination of sweet and sour flavors with the soft veggies and more firm pine nuts is just a little piece of heaven. If you like southern Italian food you will like this. It has many uses so I really hope you give it a try. It isn’t packed with nutrition like some of my recipes but it tastes good enough that I eat it anyway.

Unrelated Notes:

Today is Friday so I have been doing my usual activities. First there was the wellness check on my parents. While I was there I vacuumed and dusted and checked their refrigerator and pantry. My father had just been to store so the cupboards were not at all bare. Most people in their 80s don’t eat much. That has never been a problem with my parents. I always know when one of them doesn’t feel well when they are eating lightly. I suppose that is where I get my appetite from. ;-)

Speaking of appetite I got up this morning and wasn’t hungry in the slightest. Normally I always eat breakfast but I skipped it this morning. My scale jumped up this morning and I assume that was because I ate too much yesterday. Whenever I eat a heavy meal (like lasagna) late at night I am not hungry in the morning. Most days I force myself to have breakfast, but not this morning. Sometimes I think it is more important to listen to your body.

Today I am testing out a new toy I got my hubby to order for my birthday. It is a heart rate monitor watch by Mio. I have a heart rate monitor with a chest strap but it gets sweaty and just isn’t comfortable in the summer. Whine, whine right? Anyway, I thought if this strapless heart rate monitor worked I could use the one with the strap as a backup. So far so good the readings on the two are very close. Also, I am comparing it to my Body Bugg. Yes I have too many gadgets. I am a numbers person and always have been which explains my grad degree in Finance I suppose. I keep charts and graphs of data and that is how I motivate myself. Sick right? I love to compare workouts to see which one gives me the best calorie burn. This new watch also calculates calorie burn which I thought was pretty sweet. After I have a couple of days of data I will be posting a review. Today I am just learning how to use the new toy. I am sure I have been quite the sight today with my heart rate monitor, body bugg, new training watch and IPod. My husband told me I was starting to look like a Borg. He is too cute sometimes.

I need to get a few things done around here before Dan gets home. It is always my goal to be prepped and ready for the weekend so I can spend more time with my sweetie. I will be back later with a post about my dinner. I hope you are all having a fabulous Friday


  1. That caponata looks great. I would never have thought to put it in a wrap, but makes perfect sense. Can't wait to hear how you like the new HR monitor. There are times when I just simply can't get that stupid strap off fast enough after an intense workout (or race). Kind of freaks me out thinking about it now LOL!

  2. Heather,

    If you like olives they are also great in here, but I was trying to keep the sodium down. ;-) It is great on a sandwich I hope you try it.

    So far the new HR monitor is working out great. I know what you mean about wanting to get the strap off quickly. It is the worst in the summer. Sorry I freaked you out. ;-)

    talk to you later,

  3. Very pretty dish. Hope you are liking your new toy!

  4. Janet,

    Thanks this is one of my favorites. I make if often in the summer.

    So far I am enjoying the toy. It took me a little while to figure it out but now I think I know how to use it. I like that it is small'ish for a monitor.

    talk to you later,

  5. I think this looks delish! I especially like the idea of Ian's plate with hummus!
    What do you think of splenda? I have been toying with making sugar free sweet pickles...

  6. Brandi,

    Thanks, I like caponata with hummus too. Wait 'til see the wrap I made like that today.

    Splenda worries me I won't use it any more. I don't like the chlorine that it contains. We use stevia instead. I made some pickles using stevia not that long ago. I think I called them quick pickles if you want to do a search on the blog.

    talk to you later,

  7. mmm this also looks awesome! I will have to try it!

  8. Erin,

    Thanks! I hope you like it. :-)


  9. Looks like a great caponata. Haven't had it in ages--now I want to try yours.

    And I'm just like you, wanting to switch up what I eat every day. My hubby is like Dan, going for what he likes over and over!

  10. Ricki,

    Being a good Southern Italian girl I couldn't live without caponata. LOL. I will put it on or in anything.

    Why are men like that? I just don't understand. Mine told me once he packed the same sandwich everyday during school. No change, no variation the same exact sandwich. I can't even imagine that for a week. Clearly there is a difference in our DNA. ;-)


  11. Once again, you are a cooking inspiration to me! This week my new thing to try is Shepard's Pie made with tempeh, but this may well be the new thing I try after that! Hope you and your Hubby have a great (and safe) 4th of July! :)


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