Eggplant Caponata

Total Time:
30 min
Prep:
15 min
Cook:
15 min

Yield:
8 servings
Level:
Easy

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup virgin olive oil
  • 1 large Spanish onion, chopped in 1/2-inch dice
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 3 tablespoons currants
  • 1 tablespoon hot chili flakes, plus extra for garnish
  • 2 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (to yield 4 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon
  • 1/4 cup basic tomato sauce, recipe follows
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 5 sprigs mint, chopped
  • 1 baguette, sliced into 3/4-inch rounds and toasted on grill or in oven
  • Basic tomato sauce:
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Spanish onion, 1/4-inch dice
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried
  • 1/2 medium carrot, finely grated
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand and juices reserved
  • Salt
Directions

In a large 12 to 14-inch saute pan, over medium heat, heat the olive oil until hot but not smoking. Add the onions, pine nuts, currants and chili flakes and saute for 4 to 5 minutes until softened.

Add the eggplant, sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa and continue to cook for 5 more minutes. Add the thyme, tomato sauce, and balsamic vinegar. Bring the mixture to a boil.

Lower the heat and simmer the mixture for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature, garnish with mint and chili flakes. Serve the caponata spooned on crostini or in middle of table with crostini on side to allow guests to help themselves.

Tomato Sauce:

In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and serve. This sauce holds 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.

Yield: 4 cups


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    17 Reviews
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    excellent~~~~!!!!!!!!
    I cannot even begin to explain to you all how wonderful this dish is! I cannot stop myself from eating it right out of the pan! 
    Everyone I make this for raves about it. 
    I find that the cooking time is longer, but it is well worth the 30 minutes.
    I made this for a dinner party, and it was a big success. It traveled very well, and was ready to eat as soon as I walked in the door. My boyfriend didn't like something in the recipe, but most everyone else loved it. Pine nuts were $16/bottle at my store, but I was thrilled when I found them in the bulk nuts section! I got the amount I needed for less than $2! Also, I made the tomato sauce in the recipe, and had the leftovers with pasta the next day. Delicious!
    I have made this twice and really like it a lot. The cinnamon is a genuine Sicilian touch, and the cocoa is inspired. It improves in the fridge and is amazing on crostini and under a poached egg for breakfast... being a localvore from Massachusetts, I used "Craisin" dried cranberries in place of currants. 
    I love caponata, have made and eaten it for years and this recipe takes it up a notch with the addition of cocoa powder and cinnamon. Although unconventional in other recipes, the addition of these ingredients deepens the flavor and makes the entire dish more complex tasting. While it was good the first night, the second day (like most things of this nature was superb! Thanks Mario for taking this to the next level.
    I made this dish last night from my new Mario Batali Simple Italian Food cookbook. I felt I had dined at my favorite Tunisian restaurant - Moon of Tunis in LA. He explained in the book that this recipe comes from Sicily which is closer to Tunisia than to Milan - thus, strong Tunisian influence.
     

     
    In the cookbook, he used different measurements: half the sugar, half the pepper flakes; 3/4 cup tomato sauce - I added even more; I used Lulu's Fig Balsamic which complemented the currants and made it have less sour - loved it! The secret is truly in making the tomato sauce from his recipe. Oh....yes....the eggplant does need at least four cloves garlic and he did have that in the book. The secret of the tomato sauce is that the carrot adds a subtle sweetness that tomato needs and also, a golden color. It's great on toasted baguette by itself. As one other reviewer stated - adding more olive oil could never displease Mario....I did.
    Exactly how do you make authentic eggplant CAPONATA without capers?
    I played around with the given measurements a bit. Specifically, I took some liberties with the extra virgin olive oil (something Mario definitely doesn't frown upon) and the dish came out amazing. I'll definitely make this again. If you've ever been to Pizzeria Mozza, this caponata tastes pretty close to the one they offer on the menu. At Mozza I remember there was also some garlic mixed in for an additional kick.
    love the combination of flavors, but, with the only liquids being 1/4c of tomato sauce and 1/3c balsamic...what exactly are we supposed to boil? the eggplant sucks both of these babies up immediately. i added more tomato sauce and it was fine. LOVE pine nuts and currants together, and the light indiscernable chocolatey taste was awesome.
    excellent
    I added some fennel and yellow pepper -- a little parsley at the end. REALLY great mixed in with some canned Spanish bonito tuna. Fantastic!
    Very easy to follow and came out very tastey. I added black olives and next time I'd like to add stewed tomato chunks. Our friends loved it and we were able to make a meal out of this along with a few other appetizers.
    It was good. The last cooking time neeeds to be increase to about 12 min. It needs more raisin. The flavor was good.
    My husband and I LOVE caponata and we're also fans of Mario's so we figured that we'd love a recipe that combined two of our favorite things...but not so much. Frankly we like our standby, handed down to my Sicilian spouse by his grandmother, better than this. We think it's the cinammon and chocolate in this that threw us off.
    yummy! i always make this dish now!
    This was excellent. I've made it twice.
     
    The second time with a full cup of tomato sauce to make it more like a ragu and put it on top of soft polenta.
     
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    Recipe courtesy of Food Network Kitchen