Monday, May 23, 2011

Eggplant Caponata with Bell Peppers

Photo & Recipe courtesy of La Vita Saporita

Food Photography.
Add this to the long list of things for which I do not possess any God-given talent.
But please don't judge the caponata unfairly as a result. It ain't pretty, but it's delicious!

Eggplant Caponata with Bell Peppers
Serves 6

It's worth mentioning that Caponata is a Sicilian aubergine dish normally made with celery, aubergines (eggplant), vinegar and capers. This regional twist substitutes the celery with bell peppers. Actually, this whole recipe is an exercise in approximation so be as creative with it as you like!

1/2 cup (100g) olive oil
2 large eggplants (1-3/4 pounds/1kg), diced or sliced in strips
1 celery stalk chopped (apparently optional, but probably good too)
1 each red and yellow bell pepper, sliced in strips (optional if you use celery, but why not both?)
1 onion, thinly sliced (I used two)
14oz (500g) ripe tomatoes, peeled and diced (fresh is best, but canned is ok too)
1/2 cup white wine vinegar (we used red, worked fine)
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup pitted olives (black or green)
3 tablespoons (50g) capers (we used a whole cup in lieu of the olives)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Freshly torn basil leaves, to garnish

Firstly, you must must must sweat the eggplant. Unless, as Rhea commented below and Savuer confirmed, you're using smaller ones that you know don't need it.

Cut it lengthwise in thick slices and rub them lightly with salt on both sides. Place them vertically in a colander and let them sweat for at least an hour. This will pull the bitterness out of the flesh and leave them delightfully sweet. Rinse them, pat them dry with a paper towel and slice them lengthwise in strips.

In a large skillet, fry the onions in the oil until golden. Add the eggplant and peppers and cook "until the colors are vibrant." Technically the eggplant is supposed to be cooked in a separate skillet and combined in the last 10-15 minutes of cooking but honestly, I couldn't be bothered. It still tasted great.

Next, add in the tomatoes (and celery if you're using it) and cook until heated through, about 10-15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pour in the vinegar, sprinkle in the sugar, capers and olives and bring to a boil. Then simmer over low heat until the vinegar has evaporated, approximately 10-15 minutes.

Remove from heat and serve with freshly chopped basil. If you happen to have some vegan parmesan, that would be a lovely addition as well.

Nota bene: This doubles as a fabulous antipasto when served cold.
Buon appetito!

Update: a tablespoon each of pine nuts and golden raisins would be a great addition.
Add them in at the same time as the capers and olives.


  1. It looks pretty to me :) Looks delicious. I love eggplant though I never sweat it out. I never find it bitter. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  2. Aw, thanks so much! Have never been much of an eggplant fan myself (probably because I never knew how to prepare them properly) but this recipe converted me for life!

    You're right though, I think it's just the really big ones that need sweating. Saveur agrees with you!

  3. It took me a while to appreciate aubergine (aka eggplant), and it was recipes such as yours that ocnverted me.

  4. Thanks Mangocheeks! Good luck with your new garden - it looks amazing!!


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