Caponata is a Southern Italian Eggplant dish, or Aubergine dish. So much sexier to say Aubergine ; ) It’s basically an Italian version of ratatouille. Ka-pone-ah-ta is the perfect appetizer over Crostini (hello everything is better on Crostini, no?) & it’s fantastic served with fish!
It’s bursting with color & flavor & is chock full of veggies. Great way to squeeze them in! I could seriously eat the entire pan of this. It’s meaty (without having meat, go figure we use that terminology) so my veggietarian friends are going to be very happy & I’m thinking even your carnivore friends will be quite pleased as well! (And yeah, I know that’s not how you spell vegetarian, I just like to write it my way.)
The hardest part of this dish will be chopping all the veggies. You’ll want to be sure they’re in manageable bite size pieces. So unless your mouth is huge or you’re a big mouth bass go kinda small! Also you’ll need to make sure the oil is hot when you’re frying them. If the oil isn’t hot enough the Aubergine (tee hee) will just act like a sponge & soak up the oil. You don’t want soggy Aubergine Cubes do ya?
I’ve also had Caponata with Pine Nuts which adds a nice little layer of texture so feel free to throw a handful in if you’re feeling cray-zah ; ) I’d recommend toasting them first if you do, just sayin’!
1 large eggplant – diced
1 zucchini – diced
1 onion – diced
2 celery sticks – sliced
1 roasted red bell pepper – roughly chopped
10-12 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 plum tomatoes (quartered) or 1 can of whole Italian tomatoes – roughly chopped
2-3 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
3 tbsp capers – drained
3 tbsp of green olives – roughly chopped
handful of fresh Basil – roughly chopped
1 loaf of French Bread (for Crostini)
What to do:
Slice your eggplant into small cubes & place them into a colander. Season them generously with salt. Place colander over a small pot or bowl to collect the liquid released from the eggplant. Set aside for approx 30 mins. WHILE eggplant is releasing it’s liquid do your prep work: chop your zucchini, onion, celery, bell pepper & olives & set aside.
When eggplant is done pat the cubes dry with a paper towel. Into a large saute pan add 8 tbsp of olive oil & heat over med-high heat. When oil is hot add the eggplant & cook until golden. Stirring frequently. Do this in batches. When golden, transfer the eggplant with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb oil. Continue until all eggplant is cooked. If you need to add a little olive oil during cooking do so.
Wipe your pan dry and add approx 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add the onions & celery and cook over med heat for approx 5 mins until golden. Stirring frequently. Add the zucchini and cook for approx 5 mins. Stirring frequently. At this point add the tomatoes & roasted red bell pepper. Cook for approx 5 mins. Again, stirring frequently. Add the capers, olives & eggplant, & 2 tbsp of the red wine vinegar. Gently stir everything together. Check for seasoning and add salt & pepper to taste, if needed add additional 1 tbsp of red wine vinegar. Garnish with the roughly chopped basil.
Serve over crostini! (To make crostini: slice your bread on an angle, place them onto a sheet pan, drizzle olive oil on top & season with salt. Cook at 375 until golden)