A Tangy Caper Relish

The caper plant grows on stones, rocks and cliffs and is renowned for its beneficial properties


Chef: Nena Ismyrnoglou

Preparation & Cooking time: 5'

Serves: 8

The caper bush is a low-maintenance plant that does not like to grow in fields, near cities or in good soil. With something of the briny taste of the sea, it grows on the rocky slopes of the Santorini caldera and near the dry-stone walls built by farmers to contain soil erosion. The buds and leaves are collected from late June through end-August, stored in jars with brine and used in salads or tangy sauces. In Santorini’s traditional cuisine, they are also used in fava dip, giving it a nice tart flavor, and are served along with crunchy, fried fava balls.

Capers are a rich source of calcium, potassium, magnesium, sodium and zinc, as well as flavonoids. They have been considered to have healing powers since antiquity. Also a mild diuretic, they are used to combat water retention and, possibly because of their anti-inflammatory properties, as a painkiller. The plant is also attributed with antioxidant qualities.

INGREDIENTS

 For approx. 300 gr:

  • ½ cup capers
  • ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes preserved in oil, well drained
  • ½ cup “Throuba” (or Kalamon) olives, pitted
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped 30 ml brandy or ouzo (if you don’t want to use alcohol, add extra oil to achieve the right result)
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 70 ml olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. fresh mint or fresh oregano leaves, finely chopped (or 1 tbsp. dry leaves, finely chopped)

CAPER RELISH: INSTRUCTIONS  

In a blender, mix the capers, tomatoes, olives and garlic in a soft purée. Add the alcohol (if using), the pepper and blend for a few more seconds. Gradually pour in the olive oil while continuing to blend, until the mix has an almost smooth consistency. Add your herb of choice, mix in with a spoon and leave the relish in a jar for 10 days. If you are not going to use it immediately, you can initially omit the herb and add it shortly before serving.

INFO

Capers are sold in small glass jars by SantoWines (buds and leaves). They can also be found at selected grocery stores and delis outside Santorini.



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