“What Are Capers?”

what-are-capers

Until I started reading food blogs, I would have sworn capers were a type of fish that came in a can that no one except for old ladies and Nigel Thornberry ate(Does anyone know what I’m talking about?). But then I saw them, green little pearls that sort of look like fish eggs, except they were being used in vegan recipes. That only confused me more.

One day I was working in my restaurant and our job was to make the salsa verde used as a pork topper. The ingredients for it are simple: Parsley, jalapenos, shallots, and capers. I asked my shift manager what capers were, figuring she’d know having gone through culinary school, but her guess was as good as mine.

what-are-capers-trader-joes

I went home that night and looked it up online and found out that capers are actually buds from the caper bush that are pickled to give a tart flavor to—the perfect touch to any dish(Side note: How did people know things before the internet? Seriously, I have no clue). I was excited to find them in Trader Joes and even more excited to make a dish with them. I’m leaving town on Friday and had a few too many open cans of beans in my refrigerator so I combined them to make this delicious bean salad.

what-are-capers-bean-salad

Bean Salad With Capers

Ingredients(Makes 4 servings:

  • 1 cup chickpeas
  • 1 cup black beans
  • 1 cup cannellini beans
  • 1/3 cup sliced black olives
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons capers, drained
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste

what-are-capers-recipe

Method

  1. In a large bowl, toss together the beans, olives, capers, and oil until evenly mixed.
  2. Taste and add salt if necessary. Serve room temperature.

what-are-capers-spoonful

If you want to make this starting with unopened cans of beans, use a full can of chickpeas, black beans, and cannellini, 1/2 cup of olives, 2 Tablespoons of capers and the same amount of oil.

Fess up: Did you know what capers are?

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24 Responses to “What Are Capers?”
  1. Gina @ Running to the Kitchen
    August 17, 2011 | 9:08 am

    I feel like the geeky student raising their hand before anyone else but, yes I did know what they are :) Love them and their salty bite!

  2. Faith @ For the Health of It
    August 17, 2011 | 9:09 am

    I actually love capers, and when I used them in the dish I made for my family for Easter, they went “wow, Faith, I thought you were vegetarian – why do we have caviar in the pasta!” Funny stuff – apparently that’s a common misconception.

    SN – Wild Thornberries reference FTW! I used to love that cartoon!

  3. Caroline @ chocolate and carrots
    August 17, 2011 | 9:13 am

    I had no idea what capers were…but I totally know who Nigel Thornberry was. ;-) I actually have a friend named Capers. Weird.

  4. Stina
    August 17, 2011 | 9:29 am

    I had no idea what capers were, but I hate them and will pick them out of any dish so I didn’t really care.

    Kudos on the Wild Thornberries reference!

  5. Kristina at spabettie
    August 17, 2011 | 9:30 am

    YES, I know and love capers. Mmm, salty tart goodness.

    I will admit I had to google Nigel.

  6. Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg
    August 17, 2011 | 9:34 am

    I LOVE capers!!! At some gourmet shops, you can get GIANT ones that are really tasty!

  7. Hannah
    August 17, 2011 | 9:44 am

    Too funny! I’ve loved capers for as long as I can remember – I used to eat them by the spoonful as a kid (well, only one spoonful at a time :P and I also used to sip on vinegar). Love the salty briney hit!

  8. Natalie S.
    August 17, 2011 | 10:25 am

    I love capers! I first discovered them in my parents’ fridge. Being the adventurous kid I was, I just took a huge spoonful… and it was GROSS! But after a while, my taste buds acclimated, and now I love capers on everything :) I especially love caperberries. They look so beautiful!

  9. kathy
    August 17, 2011 | 10:35 am

    ha! I now have a clear answer for “capers” if ever confronted by Alton Brown :) RT’d!!

  10. Kierstan @ Life {and running} in Iowa
    August 17, 2011 | 10:53 am

    I haven’t eaten capers all too much, but really do enjoy them! A few weeks ago, I had an eggplant based dip that had capers in it, delicious! That reminds me that I was going to try to recreate it…

  11. Abby @ Abz 'n' Oats
    August 17, 2011 | 12:30 pm

    I had no idea what capers were until I started watching the Food Network! lol. I ask myself the same thing about knowledge almost everyday! I am a Googleaholic. I would be lost without it!

  12. Caitlyn
    August 17, 2011 | 12:43 pm

    The only reason I know what capers are is because, when I was a child, my mom would also put them on the dinner table when she made a certain chicken dish. I’ll tell you what, though, that dish was so bland it needed the salty kick of the capers!

    If it had’t been for that, I would have had no idea what capers were!

  13. Errign
    August 17, 2011 | 1:51 pm

    I LOVE that you brought up Nigel Thornberry.

  14. Paige @ Running Around Normal
    August 17, 2011 | 6:08 pm

    I thought capers were fish too!!
    I have, in fact, eaten capers *with* fish:) I’ve never thought to put them in a bean salad, though .This looks tasty!

  15. BroccoliHut
    August 17, 2011 | 8:47 pm

    I actually did know what capers were from one of my nutrition classes. I love adding them to pasta sauce!

  16. Smith & Ratliff
    August 18, 2011 | 10:28 am

    I’m more shocked that someone working in a restaurant *didn’t* know what they are!

    But yes, I knew, and they’re quite tasty little buggers too!

  17. Halley (Blunder Construction)
    August 23, 2011 | 1:09 pm

    I do know what capers are from my high school days working at Bertucci’s! I had to portion them out for the pasta cooks, and it was one of my least favorite tasks! I think capers smell like formaldehyde IMO. :x

  18. [...] Three Bean Salad with Capers over sauteed kale/garlic/lemon [...]

  19. Hannah-lyz
    February 3, 2012 | 5:20 pm

    I used to think capers were fish too, but I learnt what they were long before my bf! Bless him. Now he’s a bit of an addict.. which I take no responsibility for! hehe.
    Aaahh the Thornberry’s! I adored that cartoon as a kid! Aliza was a bit of a role model for me as a kid hehe, I may need to track that cartoon down again…. x

  20. Pam
    April 12, 2012 | 3:19 pm

    I think you were confusing capers for Kippers…..(AS WAS I) haha

  21. Nkem
    August 22, 2013 | 10:50 am

    I also thought that capers were fish kind of like anchovies! Lol

  22. Liz Freeman
    September 2, 2013 | 12:48 pm

    Had no idea what capers were til I googled it! I too thought it was a type of fish! Never tried them.

  23. Mary
    September 27, 2013 | 12:02 pm

    The little fishies are kippers.

  24. Kathy
    October 27, 2013 | 6:22 pm

    I too thought that capers were a fish of some sort and I was leafing through a cookbook (some of us do still use the actual books – although I too use the internet) and there was a recipe for a caper sauce – I asked my Mom and she didn’t have a clue. So took myself downstairs and looked it up on the internet – I too wonder what we did before the internet – Thank you for your description.

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