An eggplant was still left from last weekend’s grocery haul and yesterday reading (yes, reading!) Rocco Dispirito’s Eat this now: Italian recipes under 350kcal I found just the right dish: caponata. Caponata is used as a condiment in Italian cuisine (like pico de gallo in Mexican food), fabulous on bruschetta, or a side to a steak but it great on its own with some crusty bread. Caponata in my adapted recipe is a combination of grilled eggplant, grilled red bell pepper, garlic, capers, grilled mushroom with a dash of balsamic vinegar and agave. I used fresh charred bell peppers instead of some out of a jar (I find them too vinegary), and the dish is fa-bu-lous!
Caponata (makes 4-5 servings as sides)
- 1 medium sized Italian eggplant (ca 1 pound)
- 1 large red bell pepper
- 3-4 large baby portabella mushrrom
- 1 garlic cclove, peeled
- 1/2 TB olive oil
- dash of salt and fresh ground pepper
- 2 TB mini capers with brine
- 1 ts agave nectar
Preheat the grill (stove top or outdoors). Cut the eggplant into thin slices lengthwise and sprinkle with kosher salt. It will draw out liquid and bitterness. After 10 min rise the slices, and pad dry. Place on grill and char on both sides (ca 5 10 min). Meanwhile, slice the mushrooms and the bell pepper. Once the eggplant slices are grilled, stack, and place in a microwave safe bowl, cover with paper towel and cook for 2min (you could place them in a ziplock back to steam them, but I am hesitant about cooking food in plastic in the microwave). Let cool. Then cut into 1 inch pieces.
In a pan, heat the olive oil. Use a mandolin and thinly slice the garlic (or you could use a razor blade like in the Sopranos); toasted it in the olive oil until it is brown on both sides. Now add the capers, the eggplant, peppers, and mushroom, and gently combine. Add some salt and pepper, the balsamic vinegar and the agave nectar. Let the flavors combine for about 1-2min, turn off the heat and take off the stove.
Caponata is typically eaten at room temperature.