Bridal Shower Fun & Eggplant Caponata

A few weeks ago, I traveled up to Pittsburgh for a bridal shower hosted by my fabulous bridesmaids. It was such a great time. Usually I end up running around so many places trying to see everyone in the short visits that I am home, but this time, they all were in one room (or house, really). It was awesome to see and talk with everyone. It was such a laid back shower and I appreciate the hard work and preparation that my family and friends did to make it that way. Thanks guys!
The food was amazing - homemade goodies made by my mom and talented bridesmaids. Here's just a sampling of the tasty items on the menu that included tea sandwiches, quiches, fruit, muffins, breads, yogurt and granola, bacon wrapped asparagus, cupcakes, pies, and champagne punch.

At the shower, I also received recipes from the attendees. I have a slew of new-to-me, tried and true recipes to try including:

Linguine and White Clam Sauce
Tex Mex Green Bean Salad
Baked Pineapple
Spaghetti Sauce
Ukranian Pyrohi (which was a recipe I had been looking for since getting the pasta maker)
Chicken Cacciatore
Cranberry Relish (is it Thanksgiving yet?! I could also go for some Turkey Cranberry Ravioli)

Since Nick and I eat bread pretty often, we're always looking for new toppings or dips for bread. We've made Cannelli Bean and Basil Dip, Pesto Sauce, Bruschetta, Artichoke & Goat Cheese Dip, and more. So, this week, I decided to try the Eggplant Caponata recipe given to me by one of my friends at the shower. I figured it would be a nice deviation from our usual toppings. It ended up being a sweet and spicy (and tasty) topping that both Nick and I enjoyed.

Marianne's Eggplant Caponata

1/2 c olive oil
1 large spanish onion, chopped in 1/2" dice
3 tbsp pine nuts
3 tbsp currants*
1 tsp hot chili flakes
2 medium eggplants, cut into 1/2" cubes
2 tbsp sugar*
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp unsweetened coca powder
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1/4 c basic tomato sauce
1/3 c balsamic vinegar

In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, pine nuts, currants and chili flakes and saute for 4-5 minutes until softened. 

Add the eggplant, sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa and cook for 5 minutes more. Add the thyme, tomato sauce, and balsamic vinegar. Bring the mixture to a boil. 

Lower the heat and simmer the mixture for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Garnish with mint and chili flakes. Serve spooned on crostini or with crostini on the side. 

I'll admit, she also gave a Basic Tomato Sauce recipe, but Nick did some grocery shopping alone while he was hungry and there was a BOGO on tomato sauce, so I had plenty to use in the pantry. Perhaps next time I make this, I'll give the sauce recipe a try as well.

*I couldn't find currants at the supermarket (when is currant season?) and so I substituted the currants and the sugar for some black currant jam I found. Next time I spot currants I'll give those a try, but this worked in a pinch. I added it when I was supposed to add the sugar, figuring they had already softened and cooked down when they were prepared for the jam.

I can't wait to try the other recipes I received. What's your favorite way to get new recipes, or your favorite new recipe?

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