Eggplant Caponata

Okay, the secret is out! I am about to share one of my all-time favorite family recipes with you…Eggplant Caponata.  Caponata is a cooked vegetable mixture consisting of eggplant, celery, olives, capers, sweetened vinegar and spices.  Caponata is traditionally eaten before the meal as an appetizer or antipasto as we say it in Italia.  Caponata originates from Sicily and showcases some of the most common flavors found in that region.  This July, I was fortunate enough to spend 10 days in Sicily with my family.  Along with octopus salads, pasta with sardines and pizza we must have tried 6 or 7 different Caponata recipes.  Although each one was uniquely delicious, my favorite one is still my Grandmas! Enjoy this with crackers or sliced Italian bread beside Italian meat and cheeses, or even do as my father does and mix it together with some canned tuna for a delicious healthy lunch!  

Click on the photo to see more pictures of the dish!

Ingredients-

  1. 1 Extra Large Eggplant- Cut into ¾ inch cubes (leave skin on)
    2 Medium White Onions- Diced small (use onions that are about the size of a peach or orange)
  2. 3 Stalks of Celery- Chopped into small pieces
  3. 3 Garlic Cloves-Diced fine
  4. ½-3/4 Cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  5. A sprinkle of Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
    1 Cup Green Spanish Olives- Roughly Chopped (Do not use the pimento. Make sure theyre plain)
    1- 6oz Can Black Olives- Roughly Chopped (cut each olive in about 3-4 pieces)
    2 Tablespoons of Capers
    1- 12oz Can of Tomato Paste
    ½ Teaspoon Dried Oregano
    2 Tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
  6. 2 Tablespoons White Granulated Sugar
  7. Salt & Pepper to Taste (about 1/2 Teaspoon of salt)

Steps-

  1. In a large pot or Saute the eggplant, onions, garlic, celery and red pepper flakes in the olive oil on medium-low heat. Add more olive oil if you feel its too dry and the vegetables are not sauteing. 
  2. Cover the pot, and stir occasionally until the vegetables start to get soft.
  3. Add the tomato paste, oregano, red wine vinegar, capers, olives and sugar.
  4. Stir and allow the mixture to cook down for at least 15 minutes.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. If the mixture is way too thick add a little bit of water. I did not need to add any but it depends on your preference.
  7. You want the mixture to cook down and all the flavors to come together. 
  8. Remove from the heat and serve it hot as an appetizer beside Italian bread (or crackers) and cheeses, or serve cold…its great any way you like!  You can even mix it with pasta or with canned tuna.