Caponata di Melanzane | Authentic Italian Eggplant Recipe
There are many caponata recipes in Italy, but this is our favorite way to make the classic eggplant dish. Its sweet and sour flavor is incredibly deep and complex. This is a great side dish to make ahead for a meal the next day, as it is ideally served after a night in the fridge.
Watch the Pasta Grammar video where we make this recipe here:
For this recipe, you will need:
1/4 cup (40g) raisins
1 large eggplant
Frying oil (preferably olive, but vegetable oil will work)
4 tbsp pine nuts
3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 red onion, sliced thin
2 stalks celery, chopped
10-15 large green olives, pitted and halved (kalamata olives also work well)
2 tbsp capers
4 vine tomatoes, quartered
Fresh black pepper
1/4 cup (60ml) white wine vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp tomato paste
Place the raisins in a small dish and submerge them in water. Allow them to soak while you fry the eggplant.
Fill a deep pan with about 3 inches of frying oil. Bring it up to medium heat while you cut the eggplant into 1-inch cubes. The oil is hot enough when you can drop in a piece of eggplant and it begins to bubble and fry immediately.
Working in batches if necessary, carefully drop the eggplant chunks into the oil and fry, stirring frequently, until they are lightly browned on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel to drain.
Toast the pine nuts in a small skillet over medium/high heat for just a minute or two, stirring or tossing them constantly. Set aside for later. Also drain the raisins.
Add the olive oil and onion into a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté until the onion has tenderized a bit, then stir in the celery, olives, capers, raisins and pine nuts. Cook these together, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes before adding the tomatoes.
Salt to taste, lower the heat, and cover the pan. Cook at a gentle simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. If necessary, add a little bit of water if the caponata dries out too much and risks burning.
Meanwhile, combine the vinegar, sugar and tomato paste in a cup and stir all together. After the caponata has cooked for 30 minutes, add the vinegar mixture. Raise the heat, bring it to a brisk simmer, and stir all together for 2-3 minutes. Salt it to taste as it cooks. If you like, you can pick out and discard the tomato skins.
Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the fried eggplant and a few leaves of torn basil. Let the caponata cool completely before serving. Better yet, refrigerate it over night and serve it the next day.