The small, round, closed buds of the caper plant can be used in many different ways in cooking. As plants grow wild in Mediterranean countries, many dishes in these regions call for capers. The strong flavored caper can replace any type of olive. Capers can be used in salads, sauces or as a garnish in smoked fish dishes. One of the most popular classic Italian caper dishes is chicken piccata.
Dill weed is often used to flavor caper sauces.
To cook chicken piccata, thin, boneless pieces of poultry are first coated in flour before being fried in olive oil. The cooked chicken is then removed from the skillet and the wine, herbs, garlic and lemon wedges are heated while stirring to form a sauce. Capers are added at the end of the cooking time. In any cooked caper dish, the capers should be added near the end to keep them from being too pasty.
Capers are a traditional ingredient in tapenade.
Some cooks like to fry capers to make them even crunchier before adding them to dishes. There are also different types of capers available that affect the texture and flavor of a dish. There are capers packed with salt and also canned. Many cooks prefer to use one type over the other, but both types can be used in all types of hot and cold recipes.
Chicken piccata, which is topped with capers.
Capers can be used to create sophisticated versions of potato, egg or tuna salad. The tasty plant bud can be added to tuna, egg or potato prepared along with mayonnaise, olives, red onions, vinaigrette and freshly ground pepper. In France, capers are often used in a mayonnaise-based sauce to serve alongside seafood. For a cold summer dinner, capers can be added to a fish and rice salad; this can be served on a bed of greens, such as a mixture of lettuce, spinach and finely shredded cabbage.
Potatoes are starchy tubers used in many dishes.
Wine, lemon, herb and caper sauces can be served hot over cooked seafood such as scallops. Herbs used may include dill or tarragon. Mustard sauce and capers can complement cooked chicken breasts. The flavor of different types of pasta sauces can be enhanced by adding capers. Although capers are almost always used whole in cooking because of their small size, cutting them first tends to intensify their flavor.
Capers can replace olives in recipes.
Since most types of capers are high in salt, they should not be used when cooking for people on low-sodium diets. Capers are said to be a good source of the antioxidant rutin. Antioxidants are believed to help relieve the body of stress and free radicals that can cause disease.