Last night, I co-hosted my book club and made this lovely Roasted Eggplant Caponata as an appetizer dip served with toasted baguette slices, like bruschetta. The eggplant, onion, and garlic I used in this dish were wonderfully fresh from my latest CSA goody bag. Caponata is a Sicilian version of ratatouille with contrasting sweet and sour flavors. It’s not only delicious with its bold flavors but also healthy and super easy to make—don’t let the long list of ingredients scare you since you’re mostly just mixing them together in a bowl.
Caponata is a flexible “whatever you want it to be” kind of dish. You can enjoy it as an appetizer dip (as I did for my book club), but it can also be served as a spread in a sandwich or as a pasta topping.
You can use it as a savory crepe filling or in an omelette. It can even be a stand-alone side dish or main dish.
Since I don’t care much for olives, I didn’t use them in my recipe, but they are usually included as an ingredient. Instead, I added a teaspoon of anchovy paste to add a slight salty bite. (To keep this dish vegetarian, simply omit the anchovy paste.)
1 large eggplant (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 ounce jar of roasted red peppers
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 large cloves garlic, minced
14.5 ounce can petite diced tomatoes, lightly drained
3 tablespoons minced parsley
2 tablespoons basil, cut into chiffonade
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons drained capers
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon anchovy paste (optional)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon freshly ground sea salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
Place the whole eggplant on the pan, prick with a fork in several places, and rub with olive oil. Roast for 45 to 50 minutes, until the eggplant is very soft when pierced with a knife. Set aside to cool. Cut the eggplant in half, peel, and discard the skin. Place the eggplant and red peppers in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse until coarsely chopped.
Pour into a mixing bowl.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saute pan. Add the onion and red pepper flakes and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, until the onion is lightly browned. Add the diced tomatoes and cook for another 3 minutes, until the tomatoes are just warmed through. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute until fragrant. Pour the onion and tomatoes into the eggplant mixture. Add the parsley, basil, lemon juice, capers, anchovy paste, tomato paste, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper. Lightly toast the pine nuts in a small, dry skillet and add to the mixture.
Stir well to combine all the ingredients.
Cover and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to develop. Taste for seasonings and serve.
Serving size: about 1/3 cup