On New Year’s Eve, we hosted a pot luck dinner with our closest friends. One of my friends brought individual chicken pot pies. She said, they were staples in her home growing up in Dublin, Ireland.
This got me “a” thinking. Are pot pies an Irish thing? Do Italians have something similar? I didn’t research the answer like I normally do, instead I just grabbed one of my handy dandy notebooks and start jotting down ideas on what an Italian pot pie would be.
Right away I thought of eggplant, which got me thinking about Sicily, one of my favorite parts of Italy. I started to list some ingredients that are prevalent in Sicilian cooking like, eggplant, capers, tomatoes, peppers and olives.
In the end I decided to slightly modified my favorite *CAPONATA recipe. Caponata is an eggplant based dish that also has capers, pine nuts, onion and green olives. It’s in a sweet and sour sauce called agrdolce, which is loved in Sicily.
To make the Pot pie filling a little heartier, I added chunks of sausage to the caponata. I then topped the pies with thinly rolled out pizza dough sprinkled with red pepper flakes.
I never did find out if Italians have their own version of a pot pie, but it doesn’t really matter. I now have one that is reminiscent of the wonder flavors that I loved while in Sicily. I think they’d approve.
makes 6 cups of filling
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 lb. Italian sausage, cut into medium size pieces
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 large eggplant, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 1/4 cup diced tomatoes, canned or fresh
- 1 Tbsp. tomato paste (optional)
- 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. capers, rinsed
- 1/2 cup chopped green olives
- 3/4 tsp. cocoa powder (optional)
- 2 Tbsp. currents or golden raisins
- 2 Tbsp. pine nuts
- 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- 1 pizza dough, store bought or homemade
- red pepper flakes
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp. water
Put egg yolk & water in a small bowl & beat together. Set aside.
preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Put 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan on medium heat. Add the sausage and brown. Remove the browned sausage and set aside. To the same pan add the other 2 tablespoons of oil and sauté the onions until softened, about 3 minutes.
To the onions add the eggplant and cook for about 5 minutes, then add the tomatoes, paste, cocoa powder and vinegar, cooking for another 5 minutes. To the eggplant mixture, add the capers, olives, currents, pine, salt, pepper, basil & stir well.
Add the sausage to the eggplant mix and stir to incorporate all the ingredients. Set aside.
Put the filling into individual ramekins. Roll out dough & cut circles slightly larger than the mouth of the ramekins. Place the dough on top, pulling & pressing gently down the sides. Cut a small hole in the center of the dough & brush with egg wash. Sprinkle each pot pie with red pepper flakes or dried oregano or both!
Place the pot pies on a cookie sheet & bake for about 20-30 minutes or until the tops are golden.
REMEMBER; all ovens are different. My oven tends to cook faster, so be mindful of time.
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