Roasted eggplant caponata is the epitome of Sicilian flavors. It is sweet, sour and a little salty. It has a depth of flavor that comes out even more after a day or two, and like most things: every Sicilian household has their own variation. It is basically a condiment. It is meant to be eaten along side a main course, like Rosemary Lemon Chicken.
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Roasted Eggplant Caponata
Eggplant caponata wasn’t exactly part of my vocabulary growing up. I was introduced to it about fifteen years ago at a friend’s house.
I’ve had my fair share of different caponatas since then, but none had really stood up to that first bite.
Over the years, I had tried to replicate that first taste. It took a few tries, but I think I’ve pretty much nailed it.
Those of you that are familiar with it can sing its praises, but to those of you who aren’t… let me tell you what you’re missing.
The main ingredient is eggplant, which is a signature vegetable of Sicily. It is earthy from the eggplant, salty from capers & olives, tangy from the vinegar and gets a bit of texture from the pine nuts.
That pretty much sums it up, but believe me when I tell you there is nothing I can say that will do it justice.
How to eat eggplant caponata
Since discovering my unabashed love for this mouthful of deliciousness, when I make it, I make a lot. It freezes beautifully and can be taken out whenever the mood strikes you.
It’s perfect as a topping for toasted bread (crostini) or piled on top of a piece of grilled chicken.
It can be eaten room temp, warm or even cold (right out of the fridge with a big spoon as a late-night snack), but I also like it stirred into warm pasta.
Making caponata is a leisurely activity, like risotto. It shouldn’t be rushed. Let the pot simmer away filling your house with the most delicious smells imaginable.
Caponata bruschetta is a great thing to make ahead for a party because the flavor gets even better after a day or two.
Whether you’re hosting a party or just having some friends over, here are a few more ideas for tasty appetizers:
• roasted shishito peppers with smoked salt, brown sugar and sesame
• apple chutney bruschetta made with fresh apples and dried fruit, this chutney is good on everything from crostini to baked chicken or a pork roast.
• melon bruschetta with ricotta cheese and honey.
• lobster on thick cut potato chips – this is perfect for a fancy party, like New Year’s Eve.
Used to make Caponata:
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- 3 medium eggplants, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 2 red bell peppers, 1/2 inch dice
- 3 TB tomato paste
- 1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
- 1/2 bunch basil, chopped
- 3 TB capers
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 3 TB currants, sub raisins if currants aren't available
- 3 TB sugar
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
- 1/4 cup green olives, rough chop
- 1 can diced tomato, 14 oz
- 1/8 cup olive oil
- 1 medium onion, small dice
- 3 stalks celery, small dice
- Place the cubes of eggplant in a large bowl or plate. Sprinkle liberally with kosher salt and place another bowl or plate on top to press it down. Let the eggplant drain for about an hour.
- Rinse the salt off the eggplant and drain the liquid that has come out of the eggplant. Pat dry with paper towel just to absorb some of the water.
- Heat the olive oil and add the onions, celery and pepper. Cook for a few minutes to soften, then add the tomato paste and let that cook out a few minutes. Add the eggplant, stirring occasionally. (We are building layer upon layer of flavor...)
- Let the eggplant cook down a little. Add the vinegar, chopped tomatoes and sugar. Simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. (get a glass of wine & check back in a half hour)
- Add the rest of the ingredients, except the basil & parsley. Simmer another 10 minutes, check for seasoning and adjust if needed. (salt, pepper, vinegar, sugar, etc to suit your taste)
- Turn off heat and stir in basil & parsley to combine. Cool down before putting away.
If freezing, it will keep for up to 2 months if stored properly.
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Serving Size:1/2 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 108Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 6mgSodium: 117mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 3gSugar: 10gProtein: 3g
Nutrition information calculated by a third-party company as a courtesy. It is intended as a guideline only.
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Recipe originally published 2012, most recent update 8/26/20.