Caponata "Agrodolce" (Sweet and Sour)

This recipe for the season of peppers, eggplant, garlic, and squash is from Arlington Shareholder Matt Iden. He says he’s been meaning to share it for a year. We’re glad to have it at just the right time. Adapted from Michael Chiarello’s show Easy Entertaining, episode #MO0803.

Caponata agrodolce is a grilled vegetable salad served over bread that makes a great summer side-dish or main course for a light al fresco meal. It uses almost every vegetable Waterpenny grows in late July and August. Because the vegetables are cooked and the "dressing" is mostly vinegar, it keeps well.

Olive oil, for frying, plus more if needed for garnish
3 medium eggplants, cut into small dice
3 small green zucchini, quartered and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
3 small yellow squash, quartered and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 onions, chopped 1/4-inch pieces
6 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch slices
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup roasted red peppers, thinly sliced
1 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1 cup capers
2 cups prepared marinara sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves

In a very hot pan, separately cook the vegetables over a medium-high flame with a bit of the olive oil. Cook the onions and the garlic together in the same pan in a little more oil. Set all cooked vegetables aside in a large bowl to cool slightly.

Make the "agrodolce": Combine vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan and reduce by half over medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes.

While vegetables are still warm, combine with the roasted peppers, olives, and capers. Pour the "agrodolce" vinegar over the vegetable mixture and toss to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the chopped herbs and marinara sauce and stir.

Serve the caponata at room temperature over toasted ciabatta and top with grated parmesan.

Balsamic and cider vinegars work as well as red wine vinegar for the agrodolce.
The capers and olives make it very piquant already, so add the agrodolce vinegar/sugar syrup about ½ at a time to taste.