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Eggplant Caponata is a colorful, flavorful and versatile vegetable dish that can be served as a meatless main, hearty side or appetizer.
Our Eggplant Caponata may just look like a skillet full of vegetables, but in this case, looks are definitely deceiving. With sweet and sour notes and briny bites from the olives and capers, this dish is, as the old saying goes: “…greater than the sum of its parts!” Caponata is the perfect topping for a bowl of pasta or heart healthy quinoa. Caponata can be served slightly warm, at room temperature or cold. Dice your vegetables a little smaller (think relish) and serve it as an incredible vegetable dip, appetizer or bruschetta topping. This has to be one of the most versatile dishes ever!
Eggplant Caponata is a Sicilian classic.
With endless variations this vegetable medley is a blank canvas for your veggie creativity. The base of the recipe includes eggplant, celery, vinegar and capers. Regional variations include olives, bell peppers, pine nuts and even raisins. For our summer inspired recipe we threw in an onion, zucchini, red bell pepper and some garden ripe tomatoes too.
If you’re on the fence about cooking with eggplant, let this be the recipe that changes your mind!
Eggplant is like a sponge and soaks up all the flavors of this dish. It also breaks down into a soft binder, but in a good way. Eggplant parmesan is also a great way to enjoy this lovely vegetable, but don’t limit your experience with eggplant to that one dish! Eggplant can be the star of many more recipes that are easy to make and delicious to eat. Interesting fact: eggplant belongs to the berry family, so it’s really a fruit! Most refer to eggplant as a vegetable so I’ll just stick with that.
My favorite way to enjoy Eggplant Caponata is with a healthy scoop of quinoa. The eggplant caponata enhances the flavor of quinoa for a very satisfying healthy, filling meal!
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- 1 eggplant (about 1 ½ pounds) trimmed and diced in ¾-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large yellow onion, cut into ¾-inch pieces
- 2 ribs celery, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 medium zucchini, cut into ¾-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
- ¼ cup rough chopped green olives
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, chopped
- Add the eggplant and 1 tablespoon salt to a bowl and toss to combine. Set aside for 30-minutes. Pour eggplant into a colander (do not rinse) gently squeeze with paper towels and remove as much salt as possible.
- Pour 2 tablespoons olive oil to a large sauté pan and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the drained eggplant to the pan and allow it to sear for a few minutes before stirring. Stir and cook for another few minutes or until browned. Remove the eggplant to a clean bowl and set aside.
- Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pan and heat until shimmering. Add the garlic and sauté for about 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring frequently until the onion softens, about 5 minutes. Stir in the bell pepper and zucchini. Cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.
- Return the eggplant to the pan along with the capers, olives, sugar and vinegar. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the peppers and zucchini are soft. Add the tomatoes and cook until they start to wilt.
- Remove from the heat and add the black pepper, basil leaves and oregano. Serve warm, chilled or at room temperature.
- Great served as a meatless main over pasta or quinoa. Dice the vegetables smaller and serve as a vegetable dip or a fantastic topping for bruschetta.
Here are a few more vegetable recipes you might enjoy:
Summer Squash & Onions – a simple uncomplicated dish that is healthy, delicious, and the perfect way to enjoy the season’s best yellow squash and zucchini. Click HERE to get the recipe.
Corn & Zucchini Casserole ~ Summer vegetables are plentiful in this crustless quiche-like casserole. Delicious for breakfast, brunch or a meatless dinner everyone will enjoy. Click HERE to get the recipe.
Thanks so much for stopping by! Tricia