I thought I'd mix and match this week with a fusion dish from Italy and Argentina. Although they're far apart in distance, both countries have food cultures that are ingrained in their way of life – simple and humble, sometimes bold and surprising, and always used as an excuse for a gathering with friends and family.
Caponata is a fantastic dish from southern Italy that's eaten as a warm vegetable side or a cold antipasto. Sicilians are proud that it's made with produce from their island. All the different methods are more or less the same, but what makes it stand out and really sing are the quality of the aubergines, tomatoes and vinegar that you use. Always try to get hold of nice firm eggplants with very few seeds – have a look in your local market to see if you can find different coloured eggplants, too – they come in all shades of purple, even striped. You could even ask your grocer to cut one open so you can check it out. I've steamed the eggplant and sweet potatoes here for a healthier version than the original, then chopped them up nice and chunky for gorgeous results.
With a drizzle of chimichurri – an Argentinian garlicky, spicy herb dressing – it's an absolute flavour bomb of a dish. Chimichurri is a staple condiment in Argentina, and is usually served with grilled meat, but it goes well with white fish, potatoes and eggs, and even drizzled over grilled or steamed veggies, like I've done here. Give this a go, you won't be disappointed.
Servings: Serves 4.
1 large eggplant
2 medium sweet potatoes
2 medium onions
6 ripe tomatoes, on the vine
½ bunch fresh basil
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon tomato purée
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
8 sea bass fillets, skin off, pin bones removed, from sustainable sources
1 clove garlic
1 fresh red chili
1 large bunch fresh
2 cups arugula
Halve the eggplant lengthwise, then place in a wide saucepan, flesh-side down. Peel, roughly chop and add the sweet potatoes.
Add 1 inch of water to the pan, pop the lid on and bring to a boil over a medium heat. Reduce the heat and steam for 10 to 15 minutes, or until cooked through.
Peel and finely chop the onions, chop the tomatoes, then pick the basil leaves.
While they’re still in the pan, chop up the eggplant and sweet potato, add 1 tablespoon of oil and stir in the tomato purée.
Turn up the heat a little, stir for a couple of minutes, then add the onion and tomato, tear in the basil and season.
Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar, stir it all together and gently sauté for 25 minutes, or until the sauce is thick and the vegetables are lovely and tender.
Place the sea bass fillets on top and re-cover for 5 minutes, or until the fish is cooked.
Meanwhile, make the chimichurri. Peel and finely grate the garlic, seed and chop the chili, then pick and chop the parsley leaves. Combine it all in a small bowl, and dress with the remaining oil and vinegar.
Carefully remove the fish from the pan. Stir the arugula through the caponata and divide among your plates, with the fish on top and the chimichurri drizzled over.