Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Je T'aime... moi non plus! (Melanzana al Funghetto-Caponata-Addictive!)

Christmas is fast approaching...  my kitchen is already smelling like Christmas... Summertime, sunshine, sea and Italy seem a lifetime away... not really!
But I love Winter... I have really come to love those cold frosty morning, when tiny little drops of dew freeze on the webs, little gems of beauty that money can't buy.

I love my old Welsh dresser. Here it is
all dressed up for Christmas!

But deep, deep inside, the sun somehow keeps shining and the memories of Winters past sometimes come to the surface and mingle with my present.
The scent of soap in my aunt's bathroom, my mum's perfume and the smell of ... food, yes, food... are continuously fighting in my mind to bring back memories... good memories, happy, serene memories of life in the sun.
I sometimes get the urge to cook and taste food, simply because it's a way, for me, to smell "home."
This morning I went out, feeling rather nostalgic, so... I thought :"Why not do some "building?" Let us try to rebuild a slice of home. Baudelaire said it and Proust confirmed it: food is the "Missing link!"
Anyway! I made a dish, today, just like we make at home, following Rosa's recipe! Some may call it caponata. Where I come from we call it "Al Funghetto", translating from a word in barese dialect which sounds something like "foonjetidd." In Campania, the word sounds very similar. There is a similar dish, in Campania, called "Ciaulella" with an added ingredient: potato and, when in season, courgette (zucchine) flowers. I think I prefer the healthier original version, but Ciaulella is good, too!

Melanzane al Funghetto
Serves 4
Olive oil
(enough to cover the bottom of a medium size saucepan)
1 large aubergine (eggplant)
3 peppers
1 large onion
4-5 fresh celery sticks
7-8 medium to small plum tomatoes
(can use 4 tinned tomatoes)
black pepper
some water
This dish is very healthy, as it's rich in fibre and there is no frying involved. All the prepared vegetables go into the pan with the oil, at once!
So, all you need to do is peel your onion and dice (small). Cut your celery sticks (I also like to add some of the leaves, as I like the flavour) into pieces the same size as the onion. Half your tomatoes, then cut and dice your aubergine (medium sized pieces-look at the photo!)

My chopped vegetables

You now need to cut your washed peppers in half (you should wash all your vegetables) discard the seeds, then cut into squares (about 1 1/2 '', 3 cm.) These should be about the same size as your aubergine pieces.
You are now almost ready to cook your dish! Place all the prepared ingredients in the pot, with the cold oil, add your small tomatoes, cut into halves, stir, the... turn on the heat!

 In the pot!

Stir with care to make sure you keep your vegetables whole. If you think you need more oil, add some at the beginning. As you stir, make sure the vegetables don't stick to the base of the pan. Add a small glass of water, salt and pepper, then cook on a low heat (with a lid on) for about 15 minutes. Check and taste, let some of the water reduce and just keep tasting (remember to leave some for later, though!) until all the vegetables are quite firm, but cooked.

This dish is delicious served just with bread (we have in the evening, in Winter) but... if you want to, it can be eaten (minus juices) as a side dish. I am showing you two ways of serving my "caponata" : with crusty bread (YUM!) or with my very delicious chicken and potato, like my mum used to make! It's so good and it will taste even better tomorrow (if there's any left!)

Two ways to serve one delicious dish!

My chicken and potato dish
But that's another easy recipe!


  1. Anna this was a delightful post and I love the way you have decorated your dresser. This Christmas is not going to be easy for either of us is it. Take Care. x

  2. Dear Lindy,
    Yesterday I wrote a Christmas card to my sister and I nearly wrote my mum's name on it. First Christmas without parents. I know my mother would want us to be happy, but I also know she would love to still be here. She loved life! Who wants to die?

    Lindy. I really love my dresser. I also have a really, really old one, all made by hand! And I love all my cups. My husbands loves buying me "old things" as he knows I love them!

    I love your San Nicola post. I officially declare you ITALIAN!

    Ciao, lindy!



  3. OOOH Anna, that is my favourite kind of food and is very similar to a recipe I cook often(just the way my mother taught me!). This is such a lovely Christmassy post and your dresser looks wonderful. I have promised to leave all my decorating until Emmie comes home, so next week our house will start to look and smell Christmassy. It is a difficult time too, this first Christmas, missing a much loved parent but I know we will both be remembering the happy times. Jane xx

  4. I love your *winter*memory*meal!

    Happy Nikolausevening!

    ♥ Franka

  5. I cannot wait to buy the ingredients to make your delicious looking dish Anna and hope it comes out like yours.. I like the idea of having it with some bread..Here we have country bread..it will be ideal.
    I love your dresser, so lovely decorated.. "I think i can smell your cooking"!
    Christmas smells for me will begin next week. Then my grandchildren will be popping in "what to eat"!! must get baking then.
    I wish you a peaceful Christmas Anna.. remembere all the good things your mum passed on to you.. she will be happy. We never forget our parents,they are with us always.
    great photos.. thank you Anna
    best wishes

  6. Dear Jane,

    You and I (and Lindy), the same, this Christmas... hey... what can we do? She's (my mother) in my dreams every night, and it's her birthday in two weeks.

    Thank you for loving my recipe and my lovely dresser. I dress it up all time! It's my Barbie! (My big sister says I was her Barbie when I was a little girl!)

    Anyway... it's nearly Christmas. The stuffing is in the freezer (I make my own Italian stuffing) and so are my pheasants (my husband loves game and I also cook a fantastic duck!)and I am drinking a glass of pale Sherry. It must be Christmas time!

    Be happy... I believe we had good role models!


  7. Hi Franka!

    Happy Nikolausevening to you, too! I believe it's the beginning of Christmas and a great evening, in Germany! St. Nicholas is buried in Bari, my city, and is our Patron Saint. We "own" Father Christmas!" He's all ours!

    Have a great evening!


  8. Hi Val...

    Thank you for sending sweet and kind thoughts my way. Try my recipe, as it's really very, very easy and so good! But don't forget the celery, as it gives the dish its wonderful flavour.

    Thank you for your lovely email (and I will reply!)

    Val, I am getting ready for Christmas. All I want is peace and serenity. Maybe, if I leave a boot oustide my door, tonight, Saint Nicholas will come by and fill it with what I wished for... I hope... but I already have love, and that means a lot!

    Actually, I have my green wellies by the back door (they should be big enough!)




  9. Anna,

    Great to see you! I love the brightness you bring into your blog. I have been wanting a recipe like that for a long time and I actually think that I may be able to make this. Enjoy every day of December and the little frost. xx

  10. Hello, MrsLittleJeans! Great to see you again! I'm sure you'll be able to make this dish: it's foolproof and easy to make: just throw everything into the pot, add a bit of TLC and... it makes itself!

    I hope your little ones (cats) are doing fine!



  11. Mmmmh, Anna! Delicious it looks and delicious it tastes I am sure! I sometimes make Caponata in summer. It is as you said a light dish as it involves no frying. I have never tried it with celery. A new variation, great! After busy days I'll finally will try to prepare your Cantuccini recipe tomorrow. I haven't made any Christmas cookies yet so these will be the first ones. Pics to follow! Thanks for your cooking inspirations! I'll make you responsible when I get fat! ;o)

  12. Christa... hello... nice to hear from you! Next time you make caponata do use celery, as it wouldn't be the same without... it's "the law!"

    I am very busy, too, but next week I would like to make some cakes: English mince pies, my mum's paste di mandorle (made without flour, just ground almonds and a few more ingredients(recipe on blog!They are the best!) and I will also try to make struffoli, a Neapolitan Christmas "creation" and, if I'm really, really clever, I will attempt a Croquembouche, which I have never made before and is very elaborate, but a really creative thing to make.

    I'm very tired. Your dining room looked very pretty and cosy, last night...




  13. Ciao Anna! :)
    I mille usi della lingua italiana..a casa mia le melanzane al funghetto si fanno solo ed esclusivamente con il prezzemolo, mentre quella che al Sud chiamate "caponata" per mia nonna è "peperonata" (melanzane, peperoni e cipolla)!
    Sai, sono soltanto le 5 del mattino..e mi hai fatto venir voglia di un bel piatto di gustose melanzane del mio orto..ancora 7 lunghi mesi davanti! Sigh!
    Attendo impaziente i prossimi blogs sui dolci di Natale allora!
    Un abbraccio,

  14. Ciao Michela! E` vero... in Italia siamo tutti chef e, visto le nostre diverse etnicita`, le variazioni di un unico piatto, sono tante. Ti diro` la verita`: a casa, non si usa il termine "caponata", il quale, nel gergo italiano culinario si riferisce ad un piatto preparato essenzialmente con melanzane, possibilmente con l'aggiunta di altri vegetali (tipo peperoni.) Spesso, mia madre ometteva i peperoni, ma non il sedano, che e` l'elemento che connette gli ingredienti. Le variazioni sono tante, quante sono le famiglie in Italia, e tutte buonissime, e apprezzate. Sono certa che anche quella della nonna, col prezzemolo, sara` ottima e fa parte del vostro heritage familiare... bello e da preservare.

    La peperonata (troverai dei riferimenti alla mia se fai una search qui, sul mio blog) ha come ingrediente solo peperoni, con aglio o cipolla, solitamente senza pomodoro e con capperi. Ma ancora: devo rispettare il parere e l'esperienza della tua nonna, alla luce del fatto che l'Italia, anche culinariamente e` davvero una melting pot! Ed e` certo un punto positivo. Siamo tutti creativi e in modo diverso.

    Quindi abbiamo tutti ragione... Vogliamoci bene... siamo tutti italiani ... e grazie dell'intervento che apprezzo, Michela.

    Tanti, tanti saluti anche alla tua cara nonnina, e Buon Natale!

    Vedrai che la primavera, che sembra tanto lontana, arrivera` in un batter d'occhio!

    Ciao, cara Michela (qui c'e` un ventaccio terribile!)

    Postero` ricette e immagini di dolci, al piu` presto.



  15. ANNA! You are such a wonderful woman! I admire you preparing all these Christmas goodies! Can I see pics of them all? Please!!! As expected I did not manage to start with the Cantuccini today! I bought all ingredients though and hope to get on with it tomorrow! By the way: I had no idea that one can make jelly out of crabapples! Is there a recipe in your collection? Hope you have a good night! Ciao, Christa

  16. Christa... you make me feel so good about myself. If don't know whether I'm wonderful, but... well... yes... I don't think I'm that bad! Though there are people who don't like me (Not joking... it's true!)

    Make your cantuccini (my almond cakes recipe, which is easy and you should make, is here, under "Paste di mandorle", I think, if you wanted to look the recipe up! It's really good!)

    Tomorrow I start on my Christmas "stuff": English mince pies with Philadelphia and my sweet shortcrust pastry, and paste di mandorle. Struffoli, next week and my French croquembouche for Christmas EVE. Looking forward to the croquembouche... a work of art!

    I'm listening to Michael Buble`, by the way!

    "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go!" It's so nice, Christa! "But the prittiest sight to see is the holly on your own front door" Yes, Christa... I pinched it! It's on my front door! I got the holly! But let it be a secret... between the two of us. SHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!




  17. Crabapple jelly recipe in your mail box, Christa!




  18. Right you are, Anna! The mask is scary! If I showed you around I would sit beside you and we would have a glass of bubbly Prosecco and we would talk about recipes and Italian food. I am still negotiating with the owners about you moving in. Please have some more patience - I will talk to them until they turn into jelly and agree! ;0) Buonasera, Christa

  19. That would be very nice, Christa. And the offer of Prosecco or other bubbly stuff is one I cannot refuse. The building is very beautiful and the flooring quite old and I'm sure has lots of stories to tell. The mask would have to move out, before I move in!

    Your windows are more funm though... lots going on across the street! Better than looking at old twigs! You see? Windows fascinate me... or am I just nosey?

    BUON NOTTE... I'm going to bed!