Makes 3 cups (750 mL)
Many caponata recipes include something sweet, such as plumped raisins. Some even have anchovies or tuna. We’ve kept our recipe on the simple and savoury side to give it a myriad of serving possibilities. We suggest serving it on crostini or on top of creamy hummus. It’s also delicious served in a lettuce leaf or tucked into mini pitas.
Caponata is a perfect dish for a festive potluck. It can be made ahead by a day or two and is best served at room temperature. It’s a simple starter dish without being too filling. Flavours get richer when refrigerated for a day or two.
Per 1/4 cup (60 mL) serving:
Finely dice unpeeled eggplant in 1/4 in (0.6 cm) cubes. To release some of the bitter juices, toss with a little salt and place in sieve. Top with plate just small enough to fit snugly inside sieve. Place a weight on top, such as a 28 oz (796 mL) can of tomatoes. Set in sink to drain for 30 minutes. Remove plate. Rinse eggplant with cold running water and transfer to cloth-lined baking sheet. Blot dry with clean kitchen cloth or paper towel.
In large, heavy saucepan, heat oil. Add eggplant, onion, celery, and garlic. Sauté until mixture is soft and pale golden, about 15 minutes. Add diced bell pepper, vinegar, chopped olives, sugar, red pepper flakes, diced tomato, and capers. Cover and simmer for a couple of minutes to blend flavours. Add ground black pepper, to taste. Fold in basil and parsley. (Caponata can be made to this point, covered, and refrigerated for a day or two.)
To serve, spoon caponata onto crostini and top with a little crumbled cheese and toasted nuts. Alternatively, on shallow platter, smear with silky smooth plain hummus and tumble caponata overtop. Garnish with a little crumbled cheese and toasted nuts.
Caponata is best served at room temperature.
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