Olive Kitteridge’s Stew & Gail Plecash’s Caponata

Caponata Courtesy of Gail's Kitchen

06 Dec Olive Kitteridge’s Stew & Gail Plecash’s Caponata

I loved Olive Kitteridge. The book, by Elizabeth Strout, was so beautifully written and recently my husband and I watched the HBO mini-series, which was also brilliantly done. Melancholy musings of life in a small town in Maine, the series captures the essence of the book, as “relentlessly human” characters living in Crosby go about their lives. I enjoyed it so much, I wished there had been more than four episodes. Indeed, I felt five or six would’ve better included many of the noteworthy characters and their sad stories (see my review of the book for more details) that were left out.

Still, Frances McDormand is so perfectly cast as the unforgiving Olive and Richard Jenkins as her endearing husband, Henry. I highly recommend the series.

Now, to the kitchen. On a regular basis Olive turns out home style, good, old East coast dishes to nourish the body–though not necessarily the heart. Olive is such a miserable woman to her sainted husband and desperately neglected son as she slams down bowls of stew.

None of that at Gail’s house where the Ladies on Literature gathered to discuss the book. Gail is the most gracious of hosts, warm and welcoming, like her home and this hearty dish. Served with a nice, fresh, chewy bread and a deep, dark red wine…yum-yum!

This delicious dish is subtly different from ratatouille with the addition of celery, Calamata olives and capers. You can make it the day before, leaving you time to make your own spectacular floral arrangements, like Gail did ;).

What You Need

2 cups cubed peeled eggplant

1 tsp coarse (kosher) salt

4 tbsp olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper

1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper

3/4 cup chopped celery

2 cups drained canned plum tomatoes, chopped (reserve the juice)

1/2 tsp tsp coarsely ground black pepper

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp dried basil

1 tbsp minced garlic

1 tbsp chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

1/2 cup chopped pitted Calamata or Gaeta olives

2 tbsp capers, drained

What You Do

  1. Place the eggplant in a colander, sprinkle it with the coarse salt, let drain 1 hour.
  2. Heat 2 tbps of the olive oil in a large dutch oven. Pat the eggplant dry with paper towels, add it to the pot. Saute over medium heat until soft and lightly browned, about 10 minutes
  3. Using slotted spoon, remove the eggplant and set aside. Add the remaining oil, then bell peppers and celery. Saute over medium heat about 10 minutes. Return eggplant to the dutch oven.
  4. Add the tomatoes, pepper, oregano, basil, garlic, parsley, olives and capers. Simmer until tender, about 45 minutes. If the mixture is sticking, add the reserved tomato juice in small amounts.
  5. Serve piping hot with that chewy bread