Think you don’t like eggplant? This tangy relish will change your mind. Try it with pita chips, on pasta, over a frittata, or eaten with a spoon!
One of my favorite fall vegetables is the much-maligned eggplant.
I didn’t grow up eating eggplant, and probably you didn’t either. I used to be a Healthy Eating Coach, and most clients emphatically expressed their eggplant disdain. Interestingly, many had never eaten eggplant – but they knew they didn’t like it!
In my efforts to expand their palates, I always included an eggplant dish when teaching cooking classes. Vegetable cooking class included stuffed eggplant. French cooking class included ratatouille. And in the Mediterranean Appetizers class we roasted garbanzo beans, shredded cabbage for Greek deli slaw, and made this sweet-sour vegetable relish, Caponata. It turns out that most people like eggplant after all.
Caponata is a Sicilian creation. It includes many other sunny Mediterranean staples like bell peppers, onion, garlic, olives, and capers. Don’t be tempted to omit any of the ingredients, they all play a part in this piquant symphony. I also urge you to use a good quality vinegar. Try to find a red wine vinegar that has a lot of color. This recipe makes quite a lot (about 4 cups), but can be halved. Just use a small eggplant and a smaller cooking pot.
Roast the Eggplant First
Roast the eggplant before putting the Caponata together. There is no need to peel the eggplant, the peel will get soft during the cooking process. To roast:
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Wash and trim the eggplant. Cut in half lengthwise and score down the middle. Place on greased foil, cut side down, and bake for about 20 minutes.
- 1 large eggplant, roasted and chopped
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 red bell peppers, chopped
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 (14 ounce) can chopped tomatoes
- 3 Tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
- 3 Tablespoons chopped Kalamata olives
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- 3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
- Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in a large pot or Dutch oven.
- Add onion and celery and sauté until onion softens. Add garlic. Cook for a minute and then add bell peppers and salt.
- Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 5-8 minutes.
- Add eggplant and remaining Tablespoon oil and cook for another 5 minutes, reducing heat if necessary to prevent sticking.
- Add undrained tomatoes. Cook for 5-10 minutes or until tomatoes have thickened slightly.
- Add capers, olives, sugar, and vinegar. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often for 20-30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and the mixture is quite thick.
- Season with salt and pepper and allow to cool to room temperature.
More Eggplant Dishes
Expand your eggplant cooking repertoire with these other eggplant recipes: