Eggplant Caponata


Caponata

This is a multi-purpose, make-ahead staple that’s perfect year-round since it can be served hot or cold!  I make large batches of caponata because it can be used so many different ways.  I’ve tried numerous recipes over the years, and the one below contains elements from the different recipes that make it my favorite. Pictured are wanton shells filled with chilled caponata and topped with herbed goat cheese.  Other ideas for cold/room temperature dishes: spread on top of crostini (sprinkle crumbled feta on top), as a sandwich spread, in a wrap, and as a dip.  Ideas for hot dishes: use it as a chunky pasta sauce (topped with Parmesan of course!), place a spoonful on top of small squares of puff pastry and then bake,  serve hot over quinoa/cous cous.  In fall, when tomatoes are not very good, I replace them with butternut squash and it’s amazing!

Ingredients

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp garlic cloves, minced
1 cup onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
3 tbsp tomato paste
2 cups eggplant, chopped into 1/4 inch cubes
2 cups red bell peppers, chopped into 1/4 inch squares
2 cups tomatoes, chopped into 1/4 inch cubes
1/2 tbsp kosher salt
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
1/4 cup raisins
2 tbsp capers
2 tbsp green olives, finely chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted

Directions (stove top)

1.  Heat the olive oil, garlic, onion, and crushed red pepper in a large pot over medium-high heat until the garlic just starts turns light brown (3-5 minutes).

2.  Stir in the tomato paste. Then, add the eggplant, bell peppers, tomato, and salt.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes until the eggplant is tender.

3.  Add the balsamic vinegar, sherry vinegar, raisins, capers, and olives.  Cook for ~5 minutes, until the vinegar thickens.

4.  Remove from the heat.  Add salt and pepper as needed.  Mix in the cilantro and pine nuts.

5. Serve warm, or chill in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week.

Directions (Instapot slow cooker)

1. Place the olive oil, garlic, onion, and crushed red pepper in the instant pot bowl. Use the saute function to cook these for 3-5 minutes, until the garlic turns light brown. Turn off the saute function.

2. Mix in the tomato paste, eggplant, bell peppers, tomato, and salt. Turn on the slow cooker function, cover, and let it cook for 1 hour.

3. After an hour, add the balsamic vinegar, sherry vinegar, raisins, capers, and olives. Turn on the slow cooker again and cook for 1.5 hours, uncovered.

4. After 2.5 hours total in the slow cooker, the caponata should be a thick, chunky dish.  If it still very liquidy, you can use the saute function to burn off the excess liquid.  Turn off the Instant Pot and mix in the cilantro and pine nuts. Adjust the salt and pepper as needed.

5. Serve warm, or chill in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week.

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