Zucchini is an excellent substitute for eggplant in this recipe, which can be served as an entrée over quick-cooking polenta, or as a starter on toasted baguette rounds.
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 4 small zucchini (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into small cubes
- 4 small ribs celery, finely chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 cubanelle pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 small red chili pepper, preferably Fresno or Holland, chopped or thinly sliced
- 1 red or yellow onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- Salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup Sicilian green olives, chopped
- 3 tablespoons golden raisins
- 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar or a splash of dry white wine
- 1 can tomato sauce (15 ounces)
- A handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- A few leaves of fresh basil, torn
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup quick-cooking polenta
- 2 tablespoons butter
- A generous handful of grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese
In a large saucepan, heat the EVOO, four turns of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini, celery, bell pepper, cubanelle pepper, chili pepper, onion and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook until the vegetables are softened, 12-15 minutes. Stir in the olives and raisins. Add the vinegar or splash of wine, then stir in the tomato sauce. Lower the heat and simmer for about 3 minutes. Stir in the parsley and basil, reserving a few leaves of each.
In a medium size saucepan, bring the stock and milk to a boil. Whisk in the polenta until it pulls away from the pan, 2-3 minutes. Stir in the butter, then the cheese; turn off the heat. Serve the polenta in shallow bowls and top with the caponata and reserved herbs.