Caponata, Italian Eggplant Appetizer

Posted on September 26, 2011

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My friend Jeff, who is a gardening superhero, brought me some lovely Japanese eggplant.  I love Japanese eggplant.  You can use it as-is,instead of “sweating” like regular eggplant.  I had been hoping for some eggplant to drop in my lap so I could try out this delicious Sicilian appetizer we had while in Italy.

You can eat this straight up (it is a little strong), but better yet, serve it with a fresh loaf of Focaccia or Crostini (toasted bread slices).

I thought this recipe, in which I combined and tweaked a few versions, turned out wonderfully.  It is also a great dish to make when you have abundant garden produce.

1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil

3 celery stalks, sliced

2 red or sweet onions, sliced thinly

3 japanese eggplants (long and skinny–like an English duke), cut in half and then sliced (to get half moon shapes)

1 yellow summer squash or zucchini, cut into fourths length-wise and then chopped

2 T. minced garlic

5 Roma tomatoes, chopped

3 T. red wine vinegar

1 T. sugar

3 T. sliced green olives

2 T. capers

1/4 c. raisins

salt and pepper to taste

freshly chopped Italian parsley and/or basil

Heat the oil in a large skillet.  Add the onion and cook until translucent.  Add the eggplant and cook five minutes more.  Then add the tomatoes, squash, and garlic and cook until softened.  Meanwhile, pour boiling water over the raisins to soften them.  Once the tomatoes have broken down and the veggies are cooked, add the olives, capers, raisins, sugar and vinegar.  Let simmer.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.  Scoop everything into a large bowl and let sit at room temperature.  Serve at room temperature or slightly warmed.  Before serving, sprinkle with chopped parsley and/or basil.

This dish is full of flavor and interesting textures.  Absolutely scrumptious with the bread.  Plus, it is beautiful.  I think it would look lovely on a party table.

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