How Do You Cook With Capers?
Capers: Information and Lots of Recipes
Do you know what capers are? A lot of people don't. Read on to get answers to all those caper-related questions that keep you up at night. Are they plants or animals? Do they bite? Is it okay to go ahead and eat a caper if I see it trying to scooch off the plate? (The answer to that one is no. If you see it moving, it's probably not a caper)
I've also included a list of my favorite caper recipes AND a special secret bonus. Learn how to add a new dimension to your cooking.
Photo by wordridden
What are Capers?
Photo by CyboRoZ
Capers give a slightly exotic look and taste to a dish. Fancy restaurants love to use them. Did you ever wonder what those little green things really are?
Capers are the immature flower buds of a spiky bush native to the Mediterranean, called capparis spinosa. Caper bushes grow wild in rocky hillsides and along roadways. When allowed to develop, the buds grow into beautiful white flowers. The immature buds are picked and dried, then preserved in either salt, brine or vinegar. You'll find them at the grocery store in clear jars near the olives.
Photo by adactio
What Should I Do With My Capers?
What kinds of foods go well with capers?
Photo by wendalicious
Capers lend a small but intense burst of "pickled" flavor to a dish.
They are quite salty right out of the jar. Rinse them well before using them in a dish.
Capers are great with eggs. Try them in an omelette or in deviled eggs.
They're good in salads of all kinds. They don't need to be cooked, so just toss a few capers into your green salad.
Many sauces benefit from the addition of capers, especially tomato sauces. Try some chopped up in your spaghetti sauce.
Salmon pairs beautifully with capers, as does any seafood. How about capers in your tuna salad?
Zip up your potato salad with some chopped capers.
You can use them whole or chop them finely.
Add capers at the end of the cooking process, if possible.
Pasta with Tuna Sauce
Inexpensive and delicious
Photo by su-lin
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 tablespoon capers
1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 (6 ounce) cans tuna, drained
1 (16 ounce) package dry pasta, your choice
1. In a large sauté pan, heat oil over low heat. Add onion and garlic; cook and stir until onion is tender.
2. Stir in capers, tomatoes, lemon juice, and parsley. Season with red pepper flakes to taste. Simmer gently for 3 minutes to thicken sauce.
3. Fold in tuna, and heat through.
4. While sauce is cooking, add pasta to a large pot of rapidly boiling water; cook till just tender. Drain well.
5. Toss pasta with sauce, and serve.
A Word of Caution
Don't be fooled.
Capers can be grown in many warm and temperate climates. You may have a caper bush in your yard. However, before you decide to harvest those buds and make your own capers, be absolutely sure that you have the right plant.
The caper spurge plant produces buds that look very much like capers, but they are poisonous. Take a sample of your plant to the local extension office or plant expert to identify it before you eat it.
Have You Ever Tried Capers?
Have you tried them and did you like them?
Photo by HarlanHYour capers will keep almost indefinitely in the refrigerator as long as you leave them covered in the brine in an airtight container.
Here's a Secret
How to Make Fake Capers.
Photo by hnau
Capers are on the pricey side. If you love the taste but not the price, I'll tell you a little secret that can save you lots of money.
Nasturtium seed pods can be brined and used just like you would use capers in cooking. Here's how:
Do You Know the Health Benefits of Capers?
Recent studies show that you should be eating more of them.
Antioxidants in capers can offset the nasty oxidation from digesting meat. You can read more about it here:
Mediterranean Feta Dip
Great for parties!
Photo of Miss Shari
1 small bunch fresh basil leaves, stems removed
1 (4 ounces) jar marinated sundried tomatoes, plus 3 Tbsp of the marinade oil
1 (4 ounces) package feta cheese crumbles
1 (6.5 ounces) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
4 heaping Tbsp mayonnaise (not low-fat)
1 Tbsp capers (optional)
Set aside 1 basil leaf and 1 sundried tomato for garnish.
In a food processor or blender, blend together basil leaves, sundried tomatoes, oil from tomatoes, feta cheese, artichoke hearts, mayonnaise, and capers until they reach a nice consistency to spread on crackers.
Place in medium serving dish and garnish dip with 1 fresh basil leaf and one whole sundried tomato.
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Capers are great in pasta dishes.
Photo by Monkeycat
20 pitted Kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp rinsed, drained, and chopped capers
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp anchovy paste (optional)
Fresh cracked black pepper
Combine Kalamata olives, capers, lemon juice, olive oil, anchovy paste, and pepper. Mix well. Refrigerate and use within two weeks.
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Chicken with Tomatoes and Capers
Photo by su-lin
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/4 pounds)
salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh tarragon or 1 teaspon dried
4 ripe plum tomatoes, cut into small cubes (canned tomatoes will work, too)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons drained capers
1 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1. Sprinkle the chicken well with salt and pepper.
2. Heat the oil and butter in a heavy-bottomed skillet. Add the chicken breasts and sautÃ© over medium-high heat, turning the pieces often until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
3. Scatter the shallots and garlic around the chicken. Cook briefly; add the tarragon, tomatoes, vinegar, capers, wine, and tomato paste. Stir to dissolve the brown particles adhering to the bottom of the skillet.
4. Blend well. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
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New Potatoes with Caper Sauce
Photo by startcooking kathy and amandine
12 small new potatoes, scrubbed
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1 tablespoon minced green onion
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1. Combine the softened butter, capers, green onion, Parmesan cheese, parsley and vinegar in a bowl. Set aside.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. If potatoes are large, cut into halves or quarters. Add potatoes and cook until tender but still firm, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain.
3. Add the caper sauce to the pot of drained potatoes and toss gently to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
2 c cubed peeled eggplant
1 t.kosher salt
4 T. olive oil
1 c. chopped onion
1/2 c chopped green bell pepper
1/2 c chopped red bell pepper
3/4 c chopped celery
2 c drained canned plum tomatoes, chopped (reserve juice)
1/2 t ground black pepper
1/2 t dried oregano
1/2 t dried basil
1 T minced garlic
1 T chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/2 c chopped pitted Calamata or Gaeta olives
2 T capers, drained
1. Place eggplant in colander, sprinkle with salt and let drain for 1 hour.
2. Heat 2 T oil in large flameproof casserole or dutch oven. Pat eggplant dry and add to the casserole. Sauté over medium heat until soft and lightly browned, 10 min. Using slotted spoon, remove eggplant and set aside.
2. Add remaining oil, then onion, bell peppers, and celery to casserole. Sauté over medium heat until the vegetables are softened, 10 minutes.
3. Return eggplant to casserole. Add tomatoes, pepper, oregano, basil, garlic, parsley, olives, and capers. Simmer until the veges are tender, 45 minutes. If the mixture starts sticking while cooking, add reserved juice in small amounts.
4. Serve hot or at room temperature.
to rinse capers before using them to remove excess salt.
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