Monday, July 26, 2010

RECIPE: Eggplant Caponata

From Salt to Taste by Marco Canora
Serves 6 as a first course or side dish.

8 cups diced (about ¾” square) unpeeled eggplant (about 2 medium)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
About 7 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and diced
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp pine nuts
2 tbsp golden raisins
1 ½ tbsp chopped fresh thyme (can substitute basil, mint or rosemary)
1 ½ tsp sugar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
¼ c strained tomato puree

1. Toss the eggplant with 2 tbsp salt and set aside in a strainer for 20 minutes to drain. Pat the eggplant dry with paper towels or clean dish towels.

2. Heat about ¼” oil in a large skillet over high heat. When the oil starts to smoke, gradually start adding eggplant to the pan, adding only enough to almost fill the pan in a single layer. Cook the eggplant, turning it occasionally, until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the browned eggplant to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Add a little more oil and repeat, cooking the remaining eggplant; drain on paper towels.

3. Adjust the heat to medium-high, add more oil if the pan is dry (you want a good skim when you add the onion). Add the onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook until it softens slightly, about 1 minute. Add the garlic and cinnamon. Cook, stirring to prevent burning, for another minute. Add the pine nuts, raisins, and thyme. Continue cooking, stirring as you go, until the onion is soft and golden, about 5 minutes more.

4. Return the eggplant to the pan and add the sugar, vinegar and tomato puree. Reduce the heat to medium, season again with salt and pepper, mix well, and simmer until the mixture reduces slightly and the flavors blend, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the caponata to settle for at least 5 minutes. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.

Submitted by Ann Tilley

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