I was at a farm stand in Pennsylvania this weekend and on a whim, bought a big, fat, dark purple eggplant. The only thing I’ve ever made with eggplant (besides grilling them with a little olive oil and italian seasoning – yum) is eggplant parmigiana. Since the only tomato sauce I had was rock-solid frozen, I checked some of my favorite food blogs and found a recipe for Sicilian Caponata.
I’ve heard Rachael Ray talking about caponata on multiple occasions – show, magazine, website – but I’d never tried it. Caponata is a “cooked vegetable salad” sometimes referred to as “eggplant relish” but I think Caponata is a much sexier word than Relish. Traditionally based on eggplants and tomatoes, you can add pretty much any veggie to this. I kept mine simple but other recipes include shredded carrot, olives, roasted red peppers, green bell pepper – even toasted pine nuts as a garnish.
This recipe is meant to be a side dish, or served along crostini or breadsticks as an appetizer, but it was great as a meal served over whole wheat linguine.
It took me all of fifteen minutes to throw together and another twenty or so to simmer. I even have leftovers so I’ll be eating caponata
for the rest of the week for lunch tomorrow.
Sicilian Eggplant Caponata
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced (I used 1 cup frozen)
4 or more garlic cloves, chopped (Used 2 tsp. chopped fresh garlic)
1 large globe eggplant, tip and tail trimmed, skin on, diced into very small pieces
2 large fresh tomatoes, diced small
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons capers
Salt & pepper to taste
Kalamata olives (can be added with the tomato)
Fresh basil (can be stirred in after caponata is cooked and cooled)
Toasted pine nuts (these are traditionally used to sprinkle on top)
In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil til shimmery on MEDIUM HIGH. Add the onion, garlic, anchovy and eggplant as they’re prepped, stirring to coat with fat each time. Cook, stirring often, until eggplant has softened and become slightly brown, about 15 minutes. Add the tomato, vinegar and capers. Cover and let cook until eggplant and onion are very tender, about 15 minutes. Season to taste. Serve warm, at room temperature or refrigerate and serve cold.