I love eggplant. I love to grow them and eat them. And look, my eggplants love me back. I picked this today, and am inspired to make something tasty for lunch. There are two varieties in my garden, Japanese and Italian. The Japanese variety are long and slender, have a thinner skin, fewer seeds, and are more delicate than the Italian variety.
I like to pick the Italian traviata when they are small. The traviatas hold up better to cooking, they can be roasted or sauteed longer while holding their shape. Today, I will only use the little round Italians. Why? Because I am going to make a classic Sicilian condiment called caponata. It is yummy. And, it might be sacrilegious to use anything but Italian eggplant. You can serve caponata on bread, fish, or on pasta. It is one of those things that tastes better the longer it sits around. I have kept it in the refrigerator for weeks. With just a few eggplants, some celery, tomatoes, and a few pantry items, you can make this tasty snack.
You will need the following:
2 lbs. eggplant (three medium), peeled and diced
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 large onion (or three small ones), chopped and diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 cup fresh tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup green olives, chopped
3 Tablespoons capers, rinsed
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar, or wine vinegar
2 Table spoons sugar
teaspoon hot pepper flakes, or more to taste
1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
salt and pepper to taste
First, peel and chop the eggplant. Dice into small cubes. Cut the celery and onion into small pieces the same size as the eggplant.
Saute the vegetables with the olive oil, over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cook until all the vegetables are soft, about 10- 15 min. Add chopped tomatoes, garlic, olives, capers, sugar, vinegar, and hot pepper flakes. Cook for another 10 min. Add chopped basil, pine nuts, and salt and pepper to taste.
Serve warm or at room temperature. I love this on a toasted baguette. With a side salad, and a glass of wine, you have a meal. This dish has just the right amount of saltiness from capers and olives, sweetness from sugar, and tang from the vinegar. There are big layers of flavors going on here. The Sicilians enjoy this over fish, and with pasta.
Hope you enjoy. Buon Appetito. And remember, take the time to enjoy life. Godita la vita!