Photo Credit: Elizabeth Newman
Eggplant caponata is sometimes referred to as the Italian version of the French Ratatouille, as it follows a similar procedure: eggplant and other vegetables cooked down until tender, delicious and flavorful. The big difference with Caponata is that it’s flavored with red wine vinegar, capers, a touch of sugar, and raisins (trust me!) that add a wonderful sweet acidity to the dish.
In Sicily and Sardinia, it’s common to toss eggplant caponata with octopus, lobster, or other seafood. I love it on sandwiches, bruschetta, as a cheese board addition, or even as an easy side dish to pork chops or chicken. It’s incredibly versatile, and it’s just as delicious cold as it is room temperature.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons raisins
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon drained capers
- Heat 1/4 cup of the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the celery and saute until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Add the eggplant and saute until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Season with salt. Add the red pepper and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes with their juices, raisins, and oregano. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Simmer over medium-low heat until the flavors blend and the mixture thickens, stirring often, about 20 minutes. Add the vinegar, sugar, and capers. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Use as a filling for sandwiches, a topping to bruschetta or pizza, or as a side dish for chicken, pork or seafood. Store in the refrigerator covered for up to one week.