If the buds are not picked, they develop into berries - the larger caperberry; capers are very popular in southern Italy and Sicily, where they are used in pasta sauces, salads, pizza and meat sauces; capers are an ancient ingredient, mentioned in the Bible.
These little Mediterranean flower buds – sometimes tiny, sometimes fat and squashy – are an acquired taste, but do persevere. Capers add a lively piquancy to all kinds of dishes, especially sauces and fish. Nobody likes their first alcoholic drink, but we’ve all experienced how soon that catches on, and it’s the same with capers. You can buy them either preserved in salt (which I prefer) or in vinegar. Either way you need to place them in a sieve and rinse them under cold water first. Capers in vinegar will keep well once opened, provided the vinegar covers them completely. If it doesn’t you’ll need to do some topping up.
Classic fishcakes are wonderfully frugal food, as they allow you to 'stretch' 1lb of fish to serve 4-6 people. And who's complaining with recipes as good as this, pepped up with the addition of capers, parsley and cayenne?
Anchovies, capers, parsley and olives - plus garlicky mayo - give this bean salad plenty of punch. Chickpeas and haricots verts are a brilliant source of fibre and highly nutritious. Vegetarians could leave out the anchovies.
This lovely, Italian-inspired aubergine recipe is the essence of late-summer eating and would be a good addition to your barbecue repertoire.
Serves 4 as a starter
This stunning prawn starter is easy to make and will wow your guests with its intriguing mix of flavours - a wonderful way to start a special meal.
Bought tartare sauce isn't a patch on this luscious home-made version - and you won't believe how easy it is to make! Keep it in the fridge for up to a week and serve with anything fishy…