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Rigatoni with Caponata

Capers preserved in salt have a more intense flavor than those pickled in vinegar. Look for salted capers in Italian markets and specialty-food stores. Before using salted capers, soak them in warm water for about 20 minutes, then drain.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 small zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced
  • 1 small eggplant, about 1 lb., cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups spicy tomato sauce, homemade (see related recipe at left) or purchased
  • 2 Tbs. tomato paste, combined with 2 Tbs. warm water
  • 1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbs. capers, rinsed and drained (see note above)
  • 2 Tbs. pine nuts, toasted
  • Salt, to taste, plus 2 Tbs.
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 lb. rigatoni

Directions:

Prepare the sauce
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

In a fry pan over medium-high heat, warm 1 Tbs. of the oil. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the remaining oil, the zucchini and eggplant and cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant begins to soften, about 6 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, vinegar and sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, until the vegetables are tender, about 7 minutes. Stir in the capers and pine nuts, season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Cook the pasta
Meanwhile, add the 2 Tbs. salt and the pasta to the boiling water. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until al dente, according to the package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the sauce and toss to combine. Add as much of the cooking water as needed to loosen the sauce and serve. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Vegetarian, by Dana Jacobi (Oxmoor House, 2007).