Caponata is traditionally served as an antipasto with toasted baguette slices or crackers. It is savory, with a touch of sweetness from the raisins and salt from the olives and capers. You can also use it as a pasta or pizza topping. This is one of the most popular appetizers I serve. The recipe doubles well and it freezes beautifully. I make large batches in the summer when eggplant is at its best and freeze it in small portions. It will also last in the refrigerator for weeks. Caponata is best when made at least a day or two before you plan to serve it. You can use fresh herbs in place of the dried, but in larger quantities. Surprisingly, kids love this, even those kids who would never willingly eat eggplant
- 2 eggplants, cut into 1 inch chunks
- olive oil as needed
- 2 onions, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup coarsely chopped celery
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large can crushed tomatoes
- 1 Tbsp caper juice
- 2 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 Tb sugar
- 1 Tb red wine vinegar
- 2 Tb capers
- 1 can black olives, coarsely chopped – save liquid for future use if needed
- 1 can green olives, coarsely chopped (use black if you cannot find green)
- ½ c seedless raisins – dark or golden
- Salt eggplant cubes and let drain on paper towels or in a colander for 1 hour to remove juices. Lay eggplant between paper towel layers and smash down slightly, until eggplant turns a light greenish color.
- Preheat oven to 325.
- Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add 2 Tbsp olive oil and heat. Add half of the eggplant and saute until browned, stirring occasionally so all sides brown evenly. Repeat with 2 Tbsp oil and the rest of the eggplant. You want space between the eggplant pieces so they brown and not steam. Remove to a large casserole or dutch oven. Add onion to sautÃ© pan and sautÃ© for a short while, until onions soften but are not brown. Remove and add to the eggplant. Add to the sautÃ© pan the celery, garlic, tomatoes with their juice, tomato sauce, caper juice, Italian seasoning, salt & pepper. Cook sauce 20 minutes. Dissolve sugar in wine vinegar and add to sauce. Meanwhile, add the capers, olives and raisins to the eggplant. Pour sauce over and stir well to combine.
- Cover and cook for 2 hours. Uncover and cook about 1 hour, or until mixture is cooked down.
- Taste and adjust seasonings. If caponata seems dry but is not salty, add some olive juice to moisten.
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