A Word From The Cook
“Eggplant Caponata is Sicilian for dish delish. It’s a sweet and spicy make ahead appetizer you can bring to, or serve at a party! Brad Inserra, Chef Brad Inserra shares his secrets for classic Caponata at his Seattle restaurant, Brad's Swingside Café.”
- For Agrodolce (Sweet and Sour Sauce)
- 4 Ounces red wine vinegar
- 2 Ounces balsamic vinegar
- 2 Ounces anchovy fillets
- 1 Tablespoon capers
- 1 Tablespoon fresh chopped garlic
- 1 Bay leaf
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- For Caponata
- 1 1/2 Cup eggplant chopped into 1 inch cubes
- 1/2 Cup diced onions
- 1/2 Cup diced celery
- 1/2 Cup diced fennel
- 2 Tablespoons pine nuts
- 1/4 Teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
- 2 Tablespoons blonde raisins
- 1 Teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 Tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
- 3/4 Cup crushed tomato puree
- Waxed peppers (optional for garnish)
Step 1 – Sauté Eggplant
Coat large saucepan with 4 ounces olive oil and bring to almost a smoking point over medium high heat. Add eggplant and sauté just long enough to coat the eggplant.
Remove eggplant from pan, add 2 ounces of olive oil back to pan, bring to medium high temperature again and add eggplant back to pan. Sauté again to coat eggplant in olive oil, then cover with lid and continue to cook another 3 minutes, until eggplant is golden brown.
Transfer eggplant to large bowl and set aside.
Step 2 – Prepare Agrodolce
In a small saucepan combine the red wine and balsamic vinegars, capers, anchovy, chopped garlic, water and bay leaf.
Stir mixture occasionally, letting it simmer gently for 30-40 minutes on a back burner. Cook until mixture thickens to the consistency of paste. Then add sugar and stir.
Step 3 – Sauté & Combine Balance of Ingredients
Using the same pan you used for eggplant, caramelize the onions by coating the pan with 4 ounces olive oil. Heat pan over medium high heat, and add the onions. Stir onions to coat, then cover with lid and let cook for 3-4 minutes until translucent.
Add chopped celery and fennel to onions, stir, cover, and continue to cook another 4-5 minutes.
Remove lid and add crushed red pepper, pine nuts, and blond raisins. Stir, cover, and continue to cook another 3-4 minutes.
Remove lid and add fresh herbs over mixture by crushing herbs between your fingers. This will release essential oils from herbs. Mix and sauté for 1-2 more minutes.
Add tomatoes and flat leaf parsley to mixture and sauté for 3 more minutes covered.
Remove lid and add agrodolce (sweet and sour sauce) to mixture. Stir to combine.
Remove mixture from heat and add ingredients to large bowl containing eggplant.
Mix well and serve warm or at room temperature. (Make ahead the day before and let flavors mingle before you serve!)
Serve on individual plates or family style as a starter or appetizer.
Garnish (optional) with spicy waxed peppers. Serve with your choice of sliced bread or crackers.
Enjoy this classic Italian dish from Brad Inserra, Owner and Chef at Brad’s Swingside Café in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle.