Feeling a little hefty after all the holiday splurging? Try this delicious and fresh eggplant caponata recipe for a healthy appetizer loaded with so much flavor from fresh local eggplant, tomatoes, onions, capers, pine nuts, olives, celery and garlic. It’s even better the next day after the flavors have melded into one another. Serve with pita chips or load on top of toasted bruschetta.
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 medium eggplants, cut into 3/4-inch dice
3 celery ribs, cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 large garlic cloves, minced
3 medium onions, coarsely chopped
2 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped or diced
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup pine nuts (1.5 oz)
1/2 cup pitted green olives, halved lengthwise
1/3 cup drained capers, rinsed
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a large skillet. Add half of the eggplants and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Repeat with another 1/4 cup of the oil and the remaining eggplant.
Add the celery to the boiling water and blanch for 1 minute. Drain and transfer to a second bowl.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large nonreactive saucepan. Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add the onions and cook, stirring until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and celery, cover and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the celery is tender, about 10 minutes.
In a small bowl, stir together the vinegar and sugar. Add to the onion-tomato mixture along with the eggplants. Cover and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until all vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. (The recipe can be prepared to this point up to 3 days ahead; cover and refrigerate.)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toast the pine nuts on a small baking sheet for about 5 minutes, until golden.
Stir the olives, capers, toasted pine nuts and crushed red pepper into the eggplant mixture. Season with salt and black pepper and serve.