Recipes, Small Bites

Caponata

I’m excited to add one more tasty eggplant creation from Italy to my go to dishes: Caponata!

And it’s a dish from Sicily! I love learning about dishes from where my family is from. My parents and I first tried this delicious appetizer at Casa Santo Stefano restaurant in Tampa. After my first bite, I knew I had to recreate this dish. 

What is caponata?

Caponata Sicilian is one of Sicily’s essential dishes. Pronounced ka·puh·naa·tuh, it is a vegetarian eggplant salad–more like a relish, really–made of eggplant, onions, bell pepper, celery and tomatoes with briny olives and capers. Some describe caponata as the Sicilian version of ratatouille.

You’ll love the combination of savory, sweet flavors in this creamy eggplant dish with onions, tomato and olives! A great make-ahead appetizer to serve over crusty bread or drizzle over chicken or fish!

It is the perfect make-ahead appetizer as it is better the next day, but if you need to serve it on the same day, let it sit at room temperature for 1 hour before serving. 

Ingredients 

1 large eggplant 1 ¼ lb or so, cut into 1-inch cubes

Kosher salt

EVOO

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

2 small celery stalks thinly sliced

Black pepper

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

2 tablespoon capers

¼ cup Kalamata olives roughly chopped

¼ cup raisins

2 teaspoons honey or more to your liking

1 bay leaf

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

¼ cup red wine vinegar

¼ cup dry white wine

2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Instructions 

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Season the eggplant cubes with salt (if you have the time, set it aside in a colander to sweat out its bitterness for about 20 or 30 minutes, while you prepare the remaining ingredients. Pat dry with paper towel).

Place the seasoned eggplant cubes on a sheet pan, add a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (about 3 tablespoons or so) and toss to coat. Roast the eggplant in the heated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until browned.

Heat 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet. 

Add the onions, bell pepper, and celery. Season with a pinch of kosher salt and black pepper. Cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, tossing regularly until softened.

Add the cherry tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes are about to burst, 3 minutes. As the tomatoes begin to burst, mash them and stir. 

Add capers, olives, raisins, honey, bay leaf and crushed pepper flakes. Pour in the vinegar and white wine. Stir to combine. Cover and simmer on medium-low heat for 10 minutes.

Stir in the roasted eggplant and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes in the sauce. 

Finish with fresh parsley. 

Recipes, Small Bites

Fresh Eggplant Bruschetta

Bruschetta is easily one of my all-time favorite appetizer!

It’s eggplant season! I love this pretty, versatile vegetable and coming up with new ways to use it. Once you make this bruschetta, it will become an easy go-to for using up summer tomatoes and eggplant for years to come.

If you’re looking for a more substantial meal add this as a topping to your favorite pasta!

INGREDIENTS

  • Extra Virgin olive oil
  • Two 1-pound eggplants, chopped
  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1/4 cup packed basil leaves, coarsely shredded
  • One pint cherry tomatoes 
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1 loaf French bread, 1/2 inch slices
  • Freshly grated Parmesan

INSTRUCTIONS

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. 

Add in the diced onion and eggplant and cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until the eggplant is tender, stirring frequently. Add in the garlic, red pepper flakes and basil leaves half way through cooking.

Add the cherry tomatoes to the eggplant. Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar. 

Cover the pan, wait for the tomatoes to burst for about ten minutes. Squish any whole tomatoes with a wooden spoon and let the tomatoes thicken, about 1 minute. 

Stir in the capers and stir to combine. 

Taste and add the salt & pepper if needed. 

Heat the broiler. 

Brush the bread slices with olive oil and sprinkle with parmesan cheese on both sides. 

Char the bread on both sides.

Spoon the bruschetta onto the bread and top with grated Parmesan and remaining basil leaves. Dig in!