Summer squash and artichoke caponata

July 6, 2010 § Leave a comment

I have found a new activity to add to my list of favorite summer activities!  Other favorites include: distracting myself from runs and hikes to pick berries, powering various boats via paddles, drinking cold things while sitting in the sun (or shade, depending on the temperature), jumping up in down in the water while singing a little happy song to myself, having sing-alongs on the porch, scrambling on sun warmed rocks, and eating far more ice cream than can possibly be good for me.  My newfound activity is watering the vegetable garden with our hose.  It has to be with our hose, or else with one that is similarly leaky, because an important aspect of the enjoyableness of the whole thing is achieved by getting doused by the spray from around the nozzle, and eventually finding yourself quite as watered as the garden.   You see (I’m sure some of you are seeing this far more clearly than others), it appears that the summer has taken a double-dog dare to be as scalding hot as possible for as long as possible, just to see what we’ll do. And, I’m finding that pretty much the only way to survive is by frequently submerging, spraying, dousing, or in other words, soaking myself with lots of cold water.  Oh, and I also find myself daydreaming about freezing myself (probably naked!) into an ice cube.

Many nights, cooking seems practically out of the question.  So, I was incredibly happy to find I had somehow had the foresight to make summer squash caponata in a moment of slightly cooler temperatures a day ago ready to be used for dinner.  One of my earliest posts was about caponata – an eggplant caponata, that one (if you go look at it, please forgive the photo, it was taken back during my own personal Stone Age, before I bought a camera, and was relying on Joel’s iphone!) – and I’m just as over the top excited about it now as I was then.  It has beautiful, fresh, complex flavors, that weave together symphonically.  It’s perfect for summer, especially for using up the bounteous hauls of zucchini and summer squash that are coming in right now.  And, this go around I have come up with some actual (approximate) quantities to put to the list of ingredients.  This wonderful version forgoes the eggplant entirely and uses just summer squash while adding some artichoke hearts to play with the olives.  It’s really great of fish or chicken or over couscous.  Another favorite way of preparing it is over creamy polenta, if you have the heat tolerance to make polenta right now!  Hmmm, I wonder how frozen caponata pops would taste?…

Summer squash and artichoke caponata:

  • 2 pounds assorted summer squash, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped or a pint of cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 can (14 oz) artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1/4 cup whole olives, pitted and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons dried currants or raisins
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced
  1. In a large frying pan, heat 2 Tbs. of olive oil and sauté the chopped summer squash until tender. Remove from heat.
  2. In a separate sautee pan, heat the remaining olive oil over medium, stir in the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and sugar and stir to coat the onions. Allow to cook for another couple of minutes.
  3. Next add the tomatoes and allow to cook for about 5 minutes, then stir in the vinegar, artichokes, capers, olives, currants, and the cooked summer squash. Cook until everything is heated through, another 5 or so minutes.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve over the creamy polenta, topped with a little sprinkling of fresh basil.

Creamy polenta:

  • 6 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cup polenta (cornmeal)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  1. In a large pot bring water and cream to a boil. Add the salt, then slowly pour in the polenta, stirring vigorously to prevent clumping.
  2. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook for about 10 minutes until the polenta is thickened, stirring pretty much constantly.
  3. Remove from the heat and gently stir in the butter and Parmesan and thoroughly blended in. Divide between serving dishes and top with caponata.

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