Eggplant Caponata

 Eggplant Caponata epitomizes summer. The eggplant sops up the olive oil so use a good one. The dish is layered and made rich with salty and sweet notes. It's perfect served at room temperature as an appetizer but also delicious on burgers, over grilled meats and chicken, or layered in a sandwhich. Makes about 3-4 cups

Eggplant Caponata epitomizes summer. The eggplant sops up the olive oil so use a good one. The dish is layered and made rich with salty and sweet notes. It's perfect served at room temperature as an appetizer but also delicious on burgers, over grilled meats and chicken, or layered in a sandwhich. Makes about 3-4 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup good quality, extra virgin olive oil, possibly more

  • 2 Lbs eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes

  • 1 large onion, diced

  • 3 Tbls tomato paste, thinned in ¼ cup water

  • 1 cup crushed canned tomatoes

  • 6 oz. green olives, sliced or roughly chopped (stuffed olives are good too)

  • ½ cup white wine vinegar

  • ½ cup golden raisins

  • ¼ cup capers

  • 2 to 3 Tbls sugar or to taste

  • 2 Tbls finely grated unsweetened chocolate

  • ½ cup basil, sliced thinly

  • 2 to 4 Tbls pine nuts, toasted in a dry pan

  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat.

To Make:

  1. Heat one third of the oil and add one third of the eggplant. Fry, tossing occasionally, until browned, 3–4 minutes.

  2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer eggplant to a large bowl; set aside.

  3. Finish the remaining eggplant in two batches using more oil if needed. Don’t be afraid to allow the eggplant to absorb the oil, it will add to the dish!

  4. Lightly salt the eggplant to taste.

  5. Reduce heat to medium and add oil if needed to the pan and sauté the onions until slightly caramelized. A pinch of sugar can help the process.

  6. Add the tomato paste - water mixture and cook, stirring, until caramelized and almost evaporated, 1–2 minutes.

  7. Add the crushed tomatoes and continue cooking for 10-15 minutes.

  8. Stir in olives, vinegar, raisins, capers, sugar, and chocolate, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 15 minutes.

  9. Transfer to the bowl with the eggplant. Cool.

  10. Add the basil and pine nuts and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, and let cool to room temperature before serving.