Well, as I said I would do last week (comments on my refrigerator post), this is for K who needed some extra ideas for capers...don't we all?
First, let's get to exactly what a caper is. Wikipedia does the job very well, so I'll link you there and you can check out all the particulars for yourself. There's even a photo of the flower that the caper bud results in if left to grow!
The thing I always have capers on-hand for is Salade Nicoise and Tapenade, mais oui. Love it -- can't say enough about it. The other use I'm partial to is the classic Chicken Piccata. There are so many dishes in so many different cuisines that the caper is used in that you really can't pin it down to a single geographic area excepting where it's grown.
For your perusal -- a few recipes that make great use of the little grey-green caper.
Tunisian Potato Breiks with Olives and Capers
Pasta Ala Puttanesca
The Silver Palate Cookbook
1 lb Spaghetti, linguine, or other pasta of your choice
2 cans Peeled Italian tomatoes
1/4 c Olive oil
1 t Oregano
1/8 t Dried red pepper flakes
1/2 c Tiny black Nicoise olives
1/4 c Drained capers
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
8 Anchovy filets, chopped
1/2 c Chopped parsley
2 T Salt
Bring 4 quarts water to a boil; add salt and stir in
spaghetti. Cook until tender but still firm. Drain, and
transfer to heated plates.
While spaghetti is cooking, drain the tomatoes, cut
them cross- wise into halves, and squeeze out as much
liquid as possible. Combine tomatoes and olive oil in a
skillet and bring to a boil. Keep the
sauce at a full boil and add remaining ingredients
except pasta, one at a time, stirring frequently.
Reduce heat and continue to cook for a few minutes,
or until sauce has thickened to your liking. Serve
immediately over hot pasta and garnish with additional
Fricassee of Chicken with White Wine, Capers, and Olives
Patricia Wells, The Provence Cookbook
"For me," Wells observes, "this is comfort food personified. I love the entire process of browning the pieces of chicken, then surrounding them in a big copper pot with all manner of delights, especially my favored trio of tomatoes, olives, and capers. This dish is even better the next day, once the flavors have been allowed to blend. Nothing makes me happy like the leftovers!"
A deep 12-inch skillet with a lid
1 fresh farm chicken (3 to 4 pounds) cut into 8 serving pieces, at room temperature
Freshly ground white pepper to taste
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 onions, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
2 cups white wine
2 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled cored, seeded, and chopped
1 cup Picholine green olives, pitted (or substitute pimiento-stuffed olives)
1/4 cup capers in vinegar, drained
Liberally season the chicken on all sides with salt and pepper.
In the skillet, heat the oil over moderate heat until hot but not smoking. Add the chicken pieces and brown until the poultry turns an even golden color, about 5 minutes. Turn the pieces and brown them on the other side, 5 minutes more. Carefully regulate the heat to avoid scorching the skin. This may have to be done in batches. When all the pieces are browned, use tongs (to avoid piercing the meat) to transfer them to a platter.
Reduce the heat to low and add the onions and sweat-cook, covered, over low heat until soft but not browned-for about 3 minutes. Return the chicken to the pan. Add the wine, tomatoes, olives, and capers. Cover and simmer over low heat until the chicken is cooked through, about 1 hour. Taste for seasoning. Serve with rice or fresh pasta.
Eggplant Stuffed L'italienne
From Perla Meyers, The Seasonal Kitchen: A Return to Fresh Foods
1/2 c olive oil
1 tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 1/2 c bread crumbs, home made or prepared
1 can (7oz) tuna fish -- optional
6 anchovy filets finely chopped
2 T capers; minced
parsley and basil (optional)
1/2 c olives, finely minced
5 eggplants, very small
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise and take out the flesh, being
careful not to damage the skin. Mince the pulp well and place in
colander after sprinkling with coarse (sea or kosher) salt for 30
minutes. Do the same with the eggplant shells and put them on a paper
towel to drain.
Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the well drained
eggplant pulp and cook until lightly browned.
Add the tomatoes and cook the mixture over high heat
until the liquid is evaporated.
Add the other ingredients (Note: I do not use the tuna fish or the
olives if I'm making this as a side dish;but they would be necessary
if this is to be a main dish entree.)
Cook the mixture for 2 more minutes. Season with care as the
anchovies and capers are quite strongly flavored.
Fill the eggplant halves with the mixture. there will probably be leftover
ingredients to be placed in a baking dish. Drizzle the leftover olive
oil on top and bake for 1 hour.