Caponata is traditionally made with eggplant, onions, olives and capers or some slight variation of those main ingredients which is why I call this Capo-NOT-a, because it’s not quite caponata but it has the same tomato and vinegar zing to it. After work one day I looked in the fridge and saw celery and a zucchini sitting there. I’m always looking for ways to use up leftover celery and I didn’t have many of the ingredients at home that are usually used in caponata, so I improvised! Thankfully it worked. This is a great version of caponata for people who don’t like eggplant or olives, which is many people surprisingly! Be sure to check out the IDEAS section below for tips on ways to enjoy this stuff.
Makes 2 to 4 servings (more if used as appetizer)
5-6 stalks celery, choped in half inch pieces (peel off tough strings)
1 zucchini, chopped in half inch pieces
1 small onion, chopped in half inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
2 tsp salt
Fresh cracked pepper
Add olive oil to a pan on medium high heat. Once hot, add in onions and celery, cook stirring until slightly softened. Add in garlic and stir until aromatic, about a minute. Add squash, tomato paste, pepper flakes, salt and a few turns of fresh cracked pepper. Cook, stirring until vegetables are soft and starting to caramelize. When the bottom of the pan starts to dry up and get sticky, stir in the wine (this is called deglazing…fancy huh?) and sugar. Taste a piece of celery and squash. If they are super soft and tasty, splash in the red wine vinegar, stir and immediately turn off the heat.
Drunken Zucchini Capo-NOT-a is wonderful on crackers or crusty bread as a fancy party hors d'oeuvre. Better yet, try toasting slices of french bread, topping them with ricotta cheese and a spoonful of DZC! Or serve DZC on top of pasta, chicken or a flaky white fish.