Fruit Caponata

A while back I wrote a post on a young man who is a spice expert. His name is Lior Lev Sercarz, and he opened a spice store called La Boîte in New York City in 2007. I titled the blog post The Spice Companion, because that is the name of his first book, published in 2016. It’s a fascinating and hefty encyclopedia of spices.

La Boîte, the store, sells spices, but also has classes, dinners, and wonderful gift offerings.

If you can’t get to New York City, La Boîte has a beautiful website where one can purchase unique spices and spice blends. It’s like Penzey’s on crack.

Read my blog post if you want to be impressed by a young man on a world-wide mission to study spices. His journey from a kibbutz in Israel to New York City via France, working with notable chefs, is a great read.

I receive the monthly La Boîte newsletter, and it was in a recent issue where I discovered this fruit caponata recipe, created by Christian Leue.

In the newsletter, Mr. Leue describes his fondness of Sicily, and how in the town of Rosolini he was once served a caponata made of fruit, alongside a grilled veal ribeye. Traditional caponata is not made with fruit, but is instead a savory Sicilian eggplant dish.

Based on his dining experience, he created his own version of fruit caponata. From the newsletter: “It’s a supremely versatile condiment, bright and freshly acidic, with a deep but forgiving sweetness.”

He served his caponata with “a simply seared salmon and fluffy basmati rice topped with toasted almonds.” A sprinkle of Izak N37, a La Boîte spice blend, ties all the flavors together.” This is a photo of that meal from the newsletter.

Here is the spice blend Izak N37. It contains sweet chilies, garlic, cumin, salt, and spices.

Previously on the blog I’ve made a fruit compote As well as roasted fruit in parchment, and chutney, but this recipe is like none of those. See what you think.

Fruit Caponata
printable recipe below

1 cup whole red cherries, stems removed if you like (you can also leave them on as a reminder not to eat the pits)
2 firm nectarines, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 Vidalia onion, peeled, 1-inch dice
2 cups mixed whole grapes
2-3 Tbsp wine vinegar (either white or red is fine, amount will depend on acidity, some wine vinegars are above the standard 5%)
1 Tbsp olive oil
sweetener, to taste (I prefer chestnut honey)
salt, to taste

For the caponata, combine all ingredients except salt and sweetener in a sauce pot with a lid and cook, covered, over medium heat until everything has softened, about 25 minutes.

Adjust to taste with salt and sweetener of your choice, and additional vinegar, if desired. Instead of honey, I used maple syrup.

Leaving the fruit whole or in large chunks keeps it from getting mushy, and you’ll get a lovely red color from the cherry skins.

Depending on the season you can also try adding/substituting: strawberries, small plums, quince, figs, apple, or pear.

The only way I veered from the original recipe was to somewhat reduce the liquid remaining in the pot after cooking the caponata.

According to Mr. Leue, “The caponata goes really well with most anything you want to throw at it. Try it with brined pork chops, pan fried and served with spätzle. Or alongside farro pilaf and braised chicken thighs. I followed his suggestion and gently seared a salmon filet, but didn’t make rice.

And I used Izak N37 on the salmon.

This fruit caponata is definitely unique. If I have to compare it to a condiment, I guess it would mostly closely mimic a chutney, because of the sweet and savory components.

The caponata is pretty because the fruit isn’t chopped, but I found it more challenging to eat. But all in all it was an interesting and delicious condiment to prepare, and so many different fruit options are possible, much like a chutney.

And the Izak N37? Fabulous!

The 2nd book already published by Serarz is The Art of Blending: Stories and Recipes from La Boîte’s Spice Journey. His third book is available for pre-order on Amazon now.

 

 

 

 

By Published On: September 27th, 201944 Comments

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!

44 Comments

  1. David Scott Allen September 27, 2019 at 7:23 AM - Reply

    Sounds like a wonderful condiment with many uses — kind of reminds me of a less-sweet mostarda.

    • chef mimi September 27, 2019 at 8:36 AM - Reply

      Without mustard, but yes, still the savory and sweet components, which I love!

  2. StefanGourmet September 27, 2019 at 7:26 AM - Reply

    Like David this also reminds me of mostarda. It looks great.

    • chef mimi September 27, 2019 at 8:38 AM - Reply

      Except without mustard. But yes, savory and sweet components. Similar to a chunky chutney. I think mustard is a significant part of mostarda?

      • StefanGourmet September 28, 2019 at 4:21 PM

        Yes, mustard essence/oil is.

  3. Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen September 27, 2019 at 7:47 AM - Reply

    This sounds really unique and absolutely delicious!

    • chef mimi September 27, 2019 at 8:34 AM - Reply

      It’s really fun!

  4. Healthy World Cuisine September 27, 2019 at 8:47 AM - Reply

    I bet this would be fantastic with a side of pork too. Slightly sweet and savory and delicious.

    • chef mimi September 27, 2019 at 8:52 AM - Reply

      Definitely! In fact, I typically only serve condiments like this with pork or poultry. But the salmon worked perfectly!

  5. mycookinglifebypatty September 27, 2019 at 10:57 AM - Reply

    So fun to play with new flavors! The idea of a savory fruit dish is very appealing for fall. Thanks for the ideas!

    • chef mimi September 27, 2019 at 4:41 PM - Reply

      You are so welcome. It was fun to make.

  6. Ronit Penso Tasty Eats September 27, 2019 at 11:07 AM - Reply

    Wonderful combination! Love fruit in savory dishes. :)

    • chef mimi September 27, 2019 at 4:41 PM - Reply

      I do too. Especially this time of year! Although I created a strawberry chutney once, and it was spectacular!

  7. Mary September 27, 2019 at 3:33 PM - Reply

    Fantastic. Love savoury fruit accompaniments. They add a brightness to a dish. Can see this with a cheese platter too. Good find Mimi – will be having a look at this gentleman.

    • chef mimi September 27, 2019 at 4:40 PM - Reply

      You’ll enjoy his story! Thank you.

  8. Tandy | Lavender and Lime September 28, 2019 at 12:34 AM - Reply

    That is a good idea to leave the stems on the cherries if the pips are still in. I must still take that photo for you!

    • chef mimi September 28, 2019 at 7:05 AM - Reply

      Thanks, I’d love to know of a gadget that works for peeling eggs! Or cooks them without the peels…

  9. Fran @ G'day Souffle' September 28, 2019 at 6:06 PM - Reply

    I’m still in NYC so I’m definitely heading over to La Boite to grab some spices!

    • chef mimi September 29, 2019 at 8:22 AM - Reply

      Oh fabulous!!!

    • chef mimi September 29, 2019 at 10:06 AM - Reply

      Take photos!

  10. Debra September 29, 2019 at 12:12 AM - Reply

    This sounds really delicious and I think I’d be particularly interested in serving it throughout the holidays. I think it would make a wonderful accompaniment to turkey or ham, both of which get a little boring to me–yet the family expects them! I’ll give this a try soon!

    • chef mimi September 29, 2019 at 8:22 AM - Reply

      I agree – I love serving chutneys and such over the holidays. Pork, ham, turkey. They add so much!

  11. Jeff the Chef September 29, 2019 at 10:51 AM - Reply

    How interesting. Thanks for all the information. I love fruit in these kinds of unusual contexts.

    • chef mimi October 2, 2019 at 3:29 PM - Reply

      You are so welcome. Yes, I do as well, which is why I love fruit-based condiments so much!

  12. neil@neilshealthymeals.com September 29, 2019 at 1:41 PM - Reply

    How interesting. I was thinking this was kind of a fruit salad until you put the red wine vinegar in and paired the fruit with salmon. intrigued!

    • chef mimi September 29, 2019 at 5:38 PM - Reply

      Yes. Definitely more chutney-ish than a fruit salad!

  13. 2pots2cook2pots2cook September 30, 2019 at 5:15 AM - Reply

    Thank you for the link dear and thank you for another beautiful and interesting dish. I wish you enjoy your week :-)

    • chef mimi September 30, 2019 at 8:40 AM - Reply

      You are so welcome. Enjoy fall, if it’s come to you!

  14. Gerlinde September 30, 2019 at 10:43 AM - Reply

    The next time I am in New York I will check out this fabulous space store. I never made a caponata but it sounds intriguing .

    • chef mimi October 1, 2019 at 8:38 AM - Reply

      I can’t wait to go myself!

  15. gerlinde September 30, 2019 at 10:45 AM - Reply

    Oops, I mean spice store.

    • chef mimi October 1, 2019 at 8:38 AM - Reply

      Space store sounds good too!!!

  16. Laura September 30, 2019 at 1:16 PM - Reply

    I love this idea, Mimi! And so perfect with a fillet of salmon! A nice garnish or even a side dish, I would think!

    • chef mimi October 1, 2019 at 8:38 AM - Reply

      It’s really nice, and of course the fruits can be varied.

  17. Katherine | Love In My Oven September 30, 2019 at 4:51 PM - Reply

    Love that you served this with salmon!!! (Which looks perfectly cooked, btw). Yum!

    • chef mimi October 1, 2019 at 8:36 AM - Reply

      Thank you. One thing I know how to do is cook protein. One thing I really dislike is if it’s not cooked properly !!! Especially when it’s overcooked.

  18. cookingontheweekends October 2, 2019 at 1:04 AM - Reply

    I think cooking with grapes is so much fun and so unexpected. The spices on the La Boîte site are indeed beautiful blends. I will have to keep that page bookmarked. Lovely recipe! :-) ~Valentina

    • chef mimi October 2, 2019 at 6:16 AM - Reply

      Thank you! Yes, I especially liked using both the red and green grapes!

  19. Kelly | Foodtasia October 2, 2019 at 7:26 AM - Reply

    Mimi, this caponata looks so intriguing! Love your description of it and the sweet and salty flavors. I’ll have to check out the spices and the book!

    • chef mimi October 2, 2019 at 3:42 PM - Reply

      The book is impressive. I own it and gave it to a foodie friend as well. It’s a beautiful coffee table-style book.

  20. kitchenriffs October 2, 2019 at 9:44 AM - Reply

    Such a nifty idea! This looks wonderful — and something I really need to try. Thanks!

    • chef mimi October 2, 2019 at 3:28 PM - Reply

      I love condiments, so this is just yet another one to make!!! Can’t wait to try it with turkey and pork.

  21. sippitysup October 3, 2019 at 10:32 AM - Reply

    Sweet and savory gets me every time. It’s beautiful. GREG

    • chef mimi October 3, 2019 at 1:29 PM - Reply

      Thanks, Greg. Me, too!

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