Even though my beach vacation in Positano seems a distant memory, and I’m writing this from the landlocked confines of Umbria, I’m still playing catch up here on the blog. One thing I did take away (besides memories) is recipes. And today’s blog is all about one of my favorites: Caponata.
You’re probably thinking “What’s this typical Sicilian eggplant dish doing in Positano?” That’s what I thought too, the first time I saw it on a menu beach side. But it turns out that Caponata in Positano is a completely different animal, no eggplant in sight. Instead, it’s an brilliant mash up between a Caprese Salad and Panzanella. With it’s only special twist and some tuna thrown in for good measure.
While we had Caponata almost every day while in Positano, one of the best was at the beach restaurant Pupetto. Located at the furthest end of Fornillo Beach, it’s part of the only hotel on this beach. We spent two deliciously relaxing days hanging out beneath the orange and green umbrellas and came away not only with the recipe for Caponata but the distinct plan of returning sometime soon to actually stay in the hotel.
The one ingredient you may have trouble finding is the special kind of rusks, or twice baked bread, that form the basis for this dish. Different from the normal friselle found all over the south of Italy, these are made from cornmeal and so have an extra special crunch.
If you can’t find them, you can try to make them yourself Here is a recipe, in Italian, for the basic version of Friselle. I haven’t had a chance to try it out with corn flour, but it looks pretty simple. If you can find them already made, to buy, you can certainly use regular friselle.
Or? Even better? Heat to Positano and have lunch at Pupetto.
- 2 friselle (twice baked hard bread)
- 2 large ripe tomatoes
- 1 mozzarella, about 1 cup cubed
- ½ cup tuna in olive oil, drained
- ¼ cup chopped celery
- ¼ cup olives, black or green
- 1 small bunch of arugula
- 3-4 basil leaves, torn
- extra virgin olive oil
- Soak the friselle in cold water for about 5 minutes, to slightly soften them.
- Break them up roughly and place them on a plate.
- Chop the tomatoes and dress them with olive oil and salt. Stir them and let them sit for about ten minutes, to let the juices out.
- Place the tomatoes on top of the friselle, toss and them top with the rest of the ingredients. Drizzle with more olive oil.
- Let sit another half hour to let the bread soften and absorb the rest of the tomato juices and olive oil
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To get to the hotel you can walk, following signs for Fornillo, from the main port of Positano. A flower covered pergola and secret tunnel leads straight the hotel. Otherwise a small boat goes back and forth all day long from the main port to Fornillo.