Celebration Dinner: Caponata, Spiced Fennel Lamb Chops, and Wine-Roasted Figs

Guess what, y’all? If you haven’t heard (if I haven’t told you) already, I have an internship this fall! At ELLE Magazine! In the features department! (at least, theoretically. This is an internship, after all, so I have a feeling I’m gonna be doing whatever they ask me to do.) I am already prepping for Devil Wears Prada moments. As in, if I don’t drop a dress size and take home clothes from the sample closet and go to Paris and adopt a middle-aged gay mentor and get arch looks from Miranda Priestly Anna Wintour Meryl Streep the editor in chief, I will be severely, severely disappointed. Because that’s really why I applied for this internship. For sure.

Anyway, to celebrate my shaky step onto the rotting ladder of magazine journalism, I made a big ol’ celebratory meal. In my opinion, these three recipes make the perfect great fancy meal — they’re fancy, they’re still crowd pleasers with ingredients that you can find in any supermarket, and they’re quick and easy to make (most abused phrase on this blog). For the lamb chops, just rub some ground fennel seed and salt over the meat, saute for five minutes, and then stick the chops in a hot oven to cook through. For the caponata, a traditional Italian dish usually served on crostini, just place your chopped vegetables and spices in a skillet and let the flavors blend together as the dish simmers. For the figs, let them soak in wine, cover with aluminum foil, and roast for 15 minutes.

Hopefully, the internship will be just as easy. In any case, at least the Harry Potter series is over so don’t have to worry about getting any unpublished manuscripts.

Ingredients for Caponata:

-Olive oil

-Garlic

-3/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette

-1 onion, chopped

-1 medium to large eggplant, chopped

-2 large beefsteak tomatoes, chopped

-1 tsp cinnamon

-1 tsp cocoa powder

-1/4 cup pine nuts

-1/4 cup golden raisins

-1 tsp red pepper flakes

-2 tbsp tomato paste

-2 tsp fresh thyme

-1/2 cup water

-Salt

1. Chop eggplant into cubes and let marinate in a medium bowl with 1/2 cup balsamic vinaigrette. Leave that alone for 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat and caramelize the onions until golden, about five minutes.

3. Reduce heat and add pine nuts, golden raisins, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 3 minutes.

4. Add eggplant, cinnamon, and cocoa. Saute until eggplant is softened, about five minutes.

5. Stir in thyme, tomato paste, 1/2 cup water, and remaining 1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette. Cover the pan and reduce to gentle heat. Let simmer for 15 minutes, until eggplant begins to lose its shape. Salt to taste.

Ingredients for lamb chops:

-Lamb chops

-Fennel seed

-Salt

-Olive oil

1. Grind fennel seed into a fine powder (There is probably an actual method to doing this. I did it using a coffee grinder and it worked fine.)

2. Rub lamb chops with fennel and salt. Heat a oil in a skillet on very high heat and very carefully drop the meat in. Let sizzle for about five minutes on each side.

3. At this point, the lamb should be cooked medium rare. If you’d like it a little more well done, just stick the skillet in the oven and roast for a few minutes at 375 degrees.

Ingredients for wine-roasted figs:

-2 tbsp red wine

-4 figs

-Brown sugar

-Fresh thyme

I was a little confused when I found these yellow figs at my grocery store; I’m used to the purple kind. To be honest, these guys were a little less flavorful, but they were still delicious. And the insides look exactly the same. See?

1. Remove the stems and chop the figs in half. Place fruit rind side up in an oven safe baking dish. Pour in wine and sprinkle with brown sugar and fresh thyme.

2. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes at 375 degrees.

The figs should come out warm and juicy with just a hint of a boozy tang.

Enjoy!


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2 thoughts on “Celebration Dinner: Caponata, Spiced Fennel Lamb Chops, and Wine-Roasted Figs

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