This is a great southern Italian appetizer. It is normally stewed eggplant, tomatoes, celery, vinegar, capers, olives, fresh basil and other herbs. I prefer to grill my eggplant and tomatoes for a bit of roasted flavour. It can be served hot or cold. I prefer it on toasted ciabatta or crostini and served warm with a drizzle of excellent olive oil. It is like jazzed up bruschetta.
You will need:
- 1 medium eggplant- sliced
- 4 plum tomatoes – sliced
- 1/4 cup olive oil – I used an Italian Teraliva
- 1 stalk celery – diced fine
- 1/2 onion – diced fine
- 2 cloves garlic – chopped
- 1/2 fresh chili or 1/2 tsp dry chili flakes
- 1 tbsp red wine or balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp capers – chopped
- pinch sugar
- 3 green olives – chopped fine
- 1 tsp chopped fresh basil
- 1 tsp chopped fresh parsley
- more oil to drizzle!
- salt/pepper to taste
- ciabatta bread or baguette for crostini
- Parmesan grated to top
Step 1: slice the eggplant and tomatoes into thick slices.
Step 2: heat the grill to high and brush both the tomatoes and eggplant with olive oil. Grill for a few minutes so that the tomatoes do not lose their shape but get a bit of char on them. Cook the eggplant the same way. You will continue to cook the eggplant in a bit of olive oil in step 3, so it does not need to be cooked fully on the grill.
Step 3: chop eggplant into small dice and cook in 1-2 tbsp olive oil for 2-3 minutes until cooked completely and nicely coated in olive oil. Place eggplant in a medium-sized bowl. Chop tomatoes into small dice and add to bowl along with eggplant.
Step 4: in the same pan cook finely diced onion and celery, garlic and chilies in 2 tbsp olive oil. Cook 5-7 minutes until softened and just starting to brown. Add to eggplant and tomatoes.
Step 5: add vinegar, chopped capers, pinch of sugar, chopped olives, chopped basil, parsley and salt and pepper. Taste it and adjust if necessary. I sometimes add a squeeze of lemon at this point if it needs something but, it is not required.
Step 6: slice some bread and toast first, then add your caponata.
I like to add a bit of Parmesan and broil for a minute or two to melt.