“Oh, the tiger will love you. There is no love sincerer than the love of food.”
–George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman
This week’s Wednesday Over Water (WOW) celebrated an anti-Valentine’s Day sentiment with discussions of “Lost Love,” not only from works in our permanent collection, but also from the personal lives of curators and culinarians. These stories of heartbreak came from moments of adolescent romance on the boat dock of a Texas lake, as well as long, drawn-out summers on the Mediterranean coast of Italy…hence, the recipe inspiration behind our Love Potion Capanota and Valentino Cocktail. “Embracing the Pain” of love lost never felt…or tasted so good.
The Valentino (pictured above)
1.5 ounces Limoncello
3-4 basil leaves, ripped
1 whisper of fresh pomegranate seeds
Fill a glass with ice. Add the Limoncello and basil leaves and top off with tonic water. Give a little stir to combine. Garnish with pomegranate seeds.
Love Potion Caponata
1 1/2 pounds eggplant (cut into 1-inch cubes)
salt and pepper (to taste)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (separated, plus more if needed)
1 yellow onion (peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks)
3 cloves garlic (peeled and thinly sliced)
4 tablespoon dried golden currants
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup tomato sauce (slightly chunky)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 cup lightly toasted walnuts
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
Place the eggplant cubes in a bowl, cover with salt and pepper, toss to coat.
Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers. Add the eggplant in a single layer. Cook, without stirring, for about 5 minutes or until the eggplant begins to brown on the bottom, then use tongs or spatula to turn the cubes over and cook another 2 or 3 minutes. Turn the eggplant again and drizzle with another 1/4 cup oil. Continue to cook, turning for even browning, for up to 10 minutes, until very brown all over.
Remove the eggplant and set aside on paper towels. Reduce heat to medium. Add the onion to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, until onion is translucent but not yet beginning to color, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, currants, and red pepper flakes. Cook until the garlic is permeating the air around you and your lover, stirring constantly, about 4 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, thyme, cocoa powder, and sugar; stir to combine.
Lower the heat to medium-low. Return the eggplant to the pan and add half the toasted walnuts. Stir gently to combine the ingredients, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the lid, stir, and cook for another 5 minutes, or until almost all the liquid is evaporated. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, sugar, or vinegar, if desired. Let the sexy caponata cool completely in the pan.
Once cool, transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with remaining walnuts and orange zest.