Caponata is a classic Italian summer treat, ripe with the garden delights of eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, and herbs while garlic and olive oil add health benefits. Your family and friends will love the complex flavor of this robust and versatile dish and you’ll love how easy it is to cook up a big batch.
You can use Caponata as a dip, sandwich filling, topping for crostini or pasta. Any way you serve it, Caponata is a feast!
- 1 firm medium eggplant
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 ribs celery hearts, diced
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 pounds plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons crumbled dried celery leaves
- 8 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 cup black olives, pitted
- 1 cup drained Cerignola green olives
- 1/4 cup drained capers, rinsed
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Rinse the unpeeled eggplant, chop into 1/2 inch cubes, and set aside.
2. In a large frying pan, heat 1/4 cup of the oil over medium-low heat, and saute the fresh celery until translucent. Remove the celery from the pan and set aside.
3. In another large, 2-inch deep frying pan, heat the remaining oil over medium heat. Saute the onions and peppers until translucent and slightly tender. Add the salt, tomatoes, parsley, dried celery, and garlic, and simmer 20 minutes (the vegetables should be firm). Lower the heat and add the fresh celery and thyme. Stir all the ingredients, cook 5 minutes, remove the mixture from the heat, and set aside.
4. Cook the eggplant in the frying pan used for the celery over medium heat, about 5 minutes (the eggplant should remain firm). Stir in the vinegar. Add the eggplant to the tomato mixture, along with the sugar, oregano, olives, and capers. Season with pepper. Serve at room temperature.
Yields 4 pints.
Adapted from The Pepper Harvest Cookbook by Barbara Ciletti (Taunton Press, 1998). Copyright (c) 1998 by Barbara Ciletti. Reprinted by permission of Taunton Press.
Adapted from The Pepper Harvest Cookbook by Barbara Ciletti (Taunton Press, 1998).