Eggplant Caponata is a Sicilian staple. It’s sweet and sour and can be served on bread as an appetizer or antipasti, but it also makes an authentic side dish to an Italian themed dinner.
Can be stored in the refrigerator up to 5 days.
- 1 ½ pound eggplant (cut into 1‑inch cubes)
- salt and pepper (as needed)
- ½ cup extra-vrgin olive oil (separated, plus more if needed)
- 1 onion (peeled and cut into 1‑inch chunks)
- 2 clove garlic (peeled and thinly sliced)
- 3 tablespoon dried currants
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ½ cup tomato sauce (not too chunky)
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- ¼ cup lightly toasted pine nuts (divided)
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
Place the eggplant cubes in a bowl, sprinkle generously with the salt and pepper; toss to coat.
Heat ¼ cup of the olive oil in a 12-inch or larger saute pan over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers. Add the eggplant in as close to single layer as possible. Don’t worry if it doesn’t quite fit in one layer, the eggplant will good down quickly. Cook, without stirring, for about 3 minutes or until the eggplant begins to brown on the bottom. Once it does use a spatula to turn the cubes onto uncooked sides and cook another 2 or 3 minutes. Turn the eggplant again and drizzle another ¼ cup of oil over the eggplant. Continue to cook, turning only when necessary to promote even browning, for 8 or more minutes as needed. You may need to add a touch more oil if the pan begins to look dry. Keep cooking and turning until the eggplant is very brown all over.
Use a slotted spatula to move the eggplant to a paper towel-lined baking sheet and reduce heat to medium. Add the onion to the pan and cook, stirring constantly until onion is translucent but not yet beginning to color, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, currants, and red pepper flakes. Cook until the garlic is fragrant, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, thyme, cocoa powder and sugar; stir to combine.
Lower the heat to medium-low. Return the eggplant to the pan and add half of the toasted pine nuts. Stir gently to combine the ingredients, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the lid, stir, and cook for another 5 minutes, or until almost all of the liquid is evaporated. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, sugar or vinegar, if desired. Let the caponata cool completely in the pan.
Once cool, transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with remaining pine nuts and orange zest.