Cravings & Caponata

by Sarah on October 28, 2011 · 8 comments

Wednesday morning, I sat in on a caviar and smoked salmon tasting, where jars of up-to-$700-apiece caviar were passed around for sampling.

I didn’t try any.
And I didn’t care.

Yesterday, a coworker came up to me dangling some sliced coppa ham, saying “Don’t you waaaaaant some???”
But no.
I didn’t.

The silliest thing about being a vegan this month has been the way that people try to taunt me with meat, as though the scent of beef bourguignon will make me drastically unhappy that I’ve undertaken the challenge of a Vegan Month of Food.

True, it was the desire to eat simple baked chicken that made me stop being a vegetarian a number of years ago (and yes, I smelled a rotisserie chicken yesterday that was drool-worthy), really…I don’t miss meat. Not that I ever craved it much anyway.*
*This is the girl whose cravings for lettuce have led her to leave her home at random hours to purchase some greens.
That’s not to say I don’t have cravings.
An upset stomach (due, I fear, to the intake of dairy over the weekend when I broke veganism) meant that all I wanted for dinner was a big bowl of soupy oats with mashed banana and a scoop of White Chocolate Wonderful. It was so good that I had it again for breakfast.And although there was applesauce IN the oats, that’s actually thawed frozen banana on top, along with some Purely Elizabeth granola. No nut butter (a first for the month, perhaps)…but that’s because I had craved it all day and spent WAY too long dipping my spoon back into this jar the night before.*
*When I discovered there actually are raisins in it…odd that I didn’t seem to wonder about them before now…but they all hide in the bottom quarter of the tub!

One more than one occasion I have woken up at 3:00AM, hungry, and craved nothing by cold kabocha (surprise, surprise?) eaten directly from the fridge.
And whose to say why, but despite bringing a very well thought out lunch, I ended up eating pasta with an impromptu sauce of nutritional yeast and water, heated in the microwave because it was the only thing I wanted. (And I kind of want it again right now.)
If you haven’t figured it out, I pretty much eat based on my ever-changing cravings. (God help the man who lives with me when/if I ever am a pregnant woman!) It was the random passage of “I could really go for some eggplant…and tomatoes(!) right now…” through my mind that led to the delicious creation that is this:From eggplant, I thought of caponata…and immediately rushed to the store for a new jar of capers. After all, you can’t have caponata without capers. [I decided I could have it without raisins or parsley or anything else they told me I might need.]
This Mushroom & Eggplant Caponata Pasta (or “Capon-asta”) is one of the quickest, easiest, and most versatile dishes I’ve ever come up with. You can substitute another veggie for the mushrooms, or add more vegetables or tomatoes if you like a ‘looser’ sauce.Dice up an onion, and get it going on the stove with some minced garlic. (I used pre-minced.) As I rarely cook with oil, I tend to ‘steam’ my onions with a little water in the pan, but you can use a wee bit of olive oil if you like.
Once the aromatics are softened, add in about 4 cups of cubed eggplant (about 1/2 lb.*
*I almost just wrote “about 1/2 of a 1 lb. eggplant” and then did the math
I had a bunch of mushrooms in the fridge (they are a constant craving these days), so I chopped up about 2 cups worth and tossed them in the pan, along with about 2 Tbsp. or so of Italian seasoning, some crushed red pepper flakes, a bit of salt, and a lot of pepper.
Let those cook down, adding a bit more water to the pan to help them “steam” if necessary. Once they are pretty much cooked, stir in a can of fire-roasted crushed tomatoes. (I love the Muir Glen ones…I could just eat them in a bowl. And we sell them for only $1.12 at work.)Stir that up, and add in 1 1/2 Tbsp. capers (plus a little of the ‘jar juice’), and a couple of tablespoons of chopped olives if you happen to have some chillin’ out in your fridge.
This is delicious right away, but as with soups and stews, I also like to let it sit for a bit to let the flavors meld, and then reheat it for dinner.Man alive, just looking at these pictures is making me want some more, right now.

And if you are wondering what to do with the other half of that eggplant……might I suggest roasting it for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees covered in Bragg’s liquid aminos?

Bowls of that are another thing this vegan craves.

Mushroom & Eggplant Capon-asta
(Serves 2*)
*1 serving of pasta + about 2 1/4 cups sauce

1 cup diced sweet onion (about 1/2 medium)
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups cubed eggplant (about 1/2 lb.)
2 cups chopped mushrooms
2-3 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
crushed red pepper
salt + pepper
1 15-oz. can fired-roasted crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 Tbsp. capers
2 Tbsp. chopped olives (optional)
4 oz. spaghetti–or other pasta of your choice–cooked

1. Saute in a wee bit of oil, or steam with a little water, onion and garlic over medium heat in a fairly large saucepan.
2. One onion begins to soften, add eggplant, mushrooms, and seasonings, stirring well to coat. [Add water to the pan if necessary.]
3. Once eggplant and mushrooms are nearly cooked, stir in tomatoes, capers, and olives. Allow to simmer for 5 or so minutes to let the flavors come together…but not so long that the sauce has reduced too much (and is too thick).
4. Serve over pasta!

Note: This tastes lovely right away…and takes all of 20 minutes to cook…but it’s even better the next day. :)

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Lauren October 28, 2011 at 6:40 am

YUM! After seeing these pics I could definetly go for some! Haha :)

margaret christine October 28, 2011 at 7:27 am


Tricia @ saving room for dessert October 28, 2011 at 7:51 am

I actually ate a small piece of cake this week at a birthday party because I am so sick of a certain co-worker making comments every time I pass on cake. It's none of their business what I eat and don't eat! I don't ask them every day what they're eating. Her cakes are dry and tasteless – haha – you are my hero! Just say no.

Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean October 28, 2011 at 7:58 am

can't believe you're almost done with your month long challenge!

Fran@Broken Cookies Don't Count October 28, 2011 at 8:27 am

The caponata looks amazing!!

Tiff @ Love Sweat and Beers October 28, 2011 at 11:36 am

I need more peanut butter & co in my life. 😉 I can resist meat (sorta… kinda… for a while), but I think I'd go bonkers without dairy. I really like cheeeese!

Kristy Lynn October 28, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Good on ya sister. I would have mowed both of those things!

Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table October 28, 2011 at 2:34 pm

I loooove eggplant caponata! We ate it nearly everyday in Tuscany… the best was at a place called Zaza… served with beef tartare and capers…

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