Tangy, creamy and zippy eggplant caponata: My new best friend. Capers! Olives! Garlic! Lemon! This is a vegetarian’s flavor-filled delight. Carnivores are absolutely invited!
Eggplant is a curious creature: Purple on the outside and creamy on the inside. She’s quite versatile too because eggplant will absorb everything you add. Baked with cheese and tomato sauce, she’s a delicious and traditional hit. Roasted and dressed with capers and olives and onions, she turns into a savory and zesty dish you can’t stop yourself from dipping into over and over again. Hellooooo caponata!
1 large eggplant, 1-2 pounds
1 small Spanish or Vidalia onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, grated
6 ounces, roasted red pepper
3 TBSP capers
1/2 C green olives, pitted
3 TBSP tomato paste
2 TBSP vinegar, balsamic
3 TBSP lemon juice
1 TSP red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
fresh parsley or cilantro, chopped to top
Set the oven for 400F degrees and place the eggplant on a baking sheet. Place a few small slits throughout and rub with a bit of olive oil and pop in it for about 40 minutes. Allow it to cool before trying to peel it. (Tip: I find cutting it in half and letting some of the steam out speeds up the process!)
While the eggplant roasts, turn your pan to medium heat and add a tablespoon of olive oil and the red pepper flakes. Mince the onion and add it to the pan. (Tip: Add the garlic later in the process so it doesn’t burn!) When the onion is almost finished, grate the garlic and incorporate it into the onion mixture. Turn off the heat after another minute or so.
Once the eggplant is ready to peel, place it in the food processor along with the roasted red peppers and olives and pulse coarsely. Pour everything into a large bowl and begin to add the other ingredients. Fold in the onion and garlic, capers, vinegar, lemon and tomato paste. Because the capers and olives are salty, taste to see how much more salt is needed. A few grinds of black pepper and parsley/cilantro will finish this nicely! This dish is all about flavor so be adventurous with your favorites. If you prefer spice, add another pinch of red pepper flakes. You like tangy? Add more vinegar and lemon. You can’t go wrong. Parsley is a bit cooling while cilantro steps up the peppery quotient. Keep tasting until you do a little dance!
Cover and let marinate for a few hours. (Note: If only letting marinate for a few hours, leave it on the countertop so you don’t have to wait for it to come back to room temperature. Unless it’s 98 degrees, it should be just fine for a few hours.) Overnight in the fridge would be even better but it’s tough to keep yourself from sneaking into the bowl! Set out and let it come back to room temperature so you can really enjoy all those flavors.
Fresh pita would be perfectly tasty or thinly sliced and toasted baguette would make excellent little scoops for this deliciousness! There are no bad decisions here! Enjoy!