This Mediterranean classic is so nice to have on hand for the holiday season! Serve it with crackers or crusty, toasted bread; or as part of a charcuterie board spread. I like also like to use it to top sandwiches. You can even spread this tasty relish on top of a gluten free cauliflower pizza crust for a quick weeknight dinner!
I usually buy the bag of baby, purple eggplant from my local Costco. The smaller eggplant are sweeter, contain less seeds and are much easier to work with when peeling. This caponata, when stored in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid, will last for weeks in the fridge. As you spoon it out of the jar to enjoy, top off the leftover amount with additional extra virgin olive oil, which, when solidified in the refrigerator, forms a protective barrier, keeping the caponata fresh for weeks.
Gift idea! Make a big batch of this, jar it up and package it along with a box of crackers or crisp breads and a pretty serving bowl and spoon. Makes the loveliest — and tastiest — holiday gift!
Sicilian-Style Eggplant Caponata
- About 2 pounds of baby eggplant, peeled and cut into small cubes
- 1-2 stalks of celery, chopped into 1/2 inch thick pieces
- 5-6 mini sweet red peppers, or one small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped into small pieces
- 1 small red onion, finely chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
- Handful of green, pitted olives, such as castelvetrano
- About 1/2 cup of chopped sun-dried tomatoes, packed in olive oil
- Handful of plump raisins
- Couple teaspoons granulated sugar
- Tablespoon or two of red wine vinegar
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt
- Crushed red pepper
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Italian parsley, finely chopped
- Step 1 Place cubes of eggplant in a bowl and toss with a couple of big pinches of sea salt. Place the eggplant in a colander and set it over the bowl. Set aside for about 30 minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. The salt will extract any water from the eggplant, making your caponata thicker.
- Step 2 Combine oil, celery, red onion and garlic in skillet. Sauté until softened. Season with sea salt and crushed red pepper, to taste. Remove from skillet and set aside.
- Step 3 Saute red peppers until just beginning to soften, then add in the cubed eggplant. Add the celery mixture back in, as well as the sun-dried tomatoes. Season with more sea salt and black pepper, to taste. Simmer, then cover so it cooks down slowly and thickens, about 15 minutes.
- Step 4 Add the parsley, raisins, sugar and vinegar. Taste for seasonings, like salt and pepper, and adjust accordingly. Sauté just a minute or so linger until all of the flavors meld and the mixture is cooked down.
- Step 5 When cooled, spoon into a glass mason jar, cover with a small amount of extra virgin olive oil and refrigerate.