Farmers Market Eggplant Caponata —
Beautiful, colorful, and abundant is how I describe the summer growing season now in full bloom at the Farmers Market. I like variety in my life, and seldom like to eat the same things in the same way. I guess that’s as good a reason as any to become a food blogger. I’m always on the hunt for new recipes, or interesting flavor combinations, and this recipe for caponata fits the bill. Caponata is the sweet and sour Italian version of ratatouille, a French vegetable dish where eggplant takes center stage. Even if you hate eggplant, this is a recipe you might like to try, because eggplant absorbs flavors like a thristy sponge.
Using a sharp knife is key, because chopping the vegtables is the hardest part of this recipe. Onions, celery, garlic, eggplant, and red peppers are sautéed in a hot skillet with a little olive oil. When the vegetables are caramelized, tomatoes and seasonings are added along with raisins, capers, and balsamic vinegar, giving the dish it’s pungent sweet—sour flavor profile. It’s done in about 20 minutes, and can be served either warm or cold. If you can, make the recipe ahead and allow it to sit, because it really intensifies the robust flavor.
More Creative Recipe Ideas
Caponata is an extremely versatile vegtable dish that I actually make all year round. In the summer, I like to serve it chilled, paired with goat cheese on top of a toasted baguette that has been rubbed with a clove of garlic. Add a lightly dressed salad and a nice glass of wine, and you’ve got an easy gourmet dinner worthy of guests. In the winter, I serve caponata as a side dish to accompany roast chicken, or paired with a roast loin of pork. It’s also a good menu option for vegetarian guests. Leftovers make a great panini, or can be tossed with a jar marinara to create a quick and zesty pasta primavera.
If you’re hosting a party, consider making a cheese board and adding caponata as a savory pairing. To jump start your menu planning before your next party, be sure to read my post on how to make a cheese board.
PREP TIME - Minutes
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 medium eggplant, cut into ½-inch cubes
- 1 red bell pepper, cored seeded and cut into ½-inch pieces
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 14½ oz can diced tomatoes and their juices (I used fire-roasted)
- 2 TBS. tomato paste
- ½ cup of water
- ¼ cup raisins
- 2 tsp. dried oregano
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp. sugar
- 2 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
- ½ tsp. salt, plus more to taste
- ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
- fresh basil leaves for garnish
- Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the celery and sauté about 3 minutes.
- Add the eggplant and sauté 5 minutes.
- Add the onions and peppers and sauté for another 5 minutes.
- Add the diced tomatoes and juices, tomato paste, water, raisins, and oregano - combine.
- Simmer over a medium-low heat until the ﬂavors blend together and the mixture thickens - about 20 minutes.
- Stir in the vinegar, sugar, capers, salt and pepper. Season with more salt and pepper to taste. Serve with the basil leaves for garnish.
inspired in the kitchen
How To Make A Great Cheese Plate
Easy Entertaining: Recipes and ideas on how to put together the perfect cheese plate. Picking, pairing and presenting a selection of cheeses, meats & toppings is easier than you think!
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