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Monday, September 21, 2009

Caponata - "an Italian dish of eggplant"

This dish is a bit time consuming, but produces a very flavorful and hearty vegetable medley. It can be served along side a meat, atop toasted bread, or mixed in with pasta. The first time I made it, I mixed it in with rigatoni pasta and topped it off with crispy proscuitto and parmesan cheese. This time I served it over chicken breast. Both were excellent!

Side note: to bake off proscuitto, pre-heat your oven to 450 and bake it for 7 minutes. It crisps up nicely as it cools.

Onto the good stuff, Caponata:


1 pound eggplant, choose a firm one

sea salt to taste

¼ cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

1 medium onion

3 ribs celery, trimmed cut in 1-inch chunks

½ pound fresh plum tomatoes

½ cup olive oil + more for cooking

1 ½ tablespoons capers, drained

5 large fresh basil leaves, lightly chopped


Peel the eggplant. I like to partially peel them, leaving some skin on/peeling every other “row”

Slice the eggplant into 1” thick rounds, blot dry with paper towel (this helps them fry up better). Then cube eggplant into bite sized pieces.Toss with some salt and let rest.

Meanwhile pour the red wine vinegar and ½ cup water into a small pan, stir in the sugar and bring to a boil. Cook until reduced and syrupy, remove from the heat.

Chop onion, celery, plum tomatoes and basil.

Now fry the eggplant. Pour ½ cup of olive oil into the skillet and set over medium heat. Spread all the eggplant chunks in the hot oil and fry for 15 minutes or so, tossing and stirring frequently, until the eggplant is soft, cooked through and nicely browned on all sides. Lift the eggplant out of the oil with a slotted spoon and lay on paper towel to drain. Discard frying oil.

Pour fresh olive oil in the skillet and set it over medium heat. Stir in the onion and celery, season with salt to taste. Cook for about 8 minutes, stirring often. Add the capers, and then gently fold the tomatoes chunks in with the other vegetables. Cook until the tomatoes are softened but still holding their shape, about 5 minutes. Mix in fresh basil. When everything is sizzling, pour the vinegar syrup all over. Mix well, reduce heat to low, and add eggplant back to dish. Gingerly mix eggplant back into dish to warm it. Serve & Enjoy!

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